Panorama | Special Presentations
Greek iconoclast Yorgos Lanthimos (Alps, VIFF 11; The Lobster, VIFF 15; The Killing of a Sacred Deer, VIFF 17) continues his dissection of the human condition with this blackly humorous period piece set in the sumptuous court of Queen Anne (as played, hilariously, by a rouge-cheeked Olivia Colman) in 18th-century England. As the semi-mad queen frivolously spends her days conducting duck races even while her country is in the midst of war with France, her most trusted advisor, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough (a wickedly good Rachel Weisz), and the Duchess’ new servant (Emma Stone) themselves go to war over just who will secure the role of queen’s favourite and, by proxy, exert control over the whole of England… Lanthimos, characteristically, turns the tropes of the powdered-wig period drama upside down, playing what would be taken deadly seriously by other directors for laughs, and delivering comic set-pieces with a solemnly straight face. Drawing comparisons to both Barry Lyndon, for Robbie Ryan’s (American Honey; I, Daniel Blake) gorgeous cinematography, and Marie Antoinette, for the way it reinvents the period piece for a modern audience, The Favourite continues Lanthimos’ ongoing quest to uphold the Modernist creed and "make it new!"
"A propos of its subject, The Favourite feels like a crowning achievement… The skullduggery is hilarious in its absurdity, but as the stakes get higher you begin to pity all involved… As is often the case with Lanthimos, there’s a deep well of sadness beneath the humorous surface." — Michael Nordine, IndieWire
Volpi Cup: Best Actress (Olivia Colman), Venice 18