The Favourite (2018)

I much prefer Yorgos when he’s working from within his own demented imagination – this is very much a director-for-hire job, though as far as career moves go you could certainly do a lot worse – but I’m nonetheless impressed with how brazenly he inflicts his fingerprints onto this material. The stylistic choices constantly sent me crosseyed and baffled, but in a good way. The wide array of lenses, fish-eye included , are deployed with enough punkish abandon to leave your mouth agape and the darker, transgressive thematics are a wonderful fit for his particular brand of perversity.

And yet Lanthimos wisely stays out of the way of the writing for the most part, letting the performances run amok to rightfully become the centre of attention. Coleman, Stone and Weisz are all delightfully catty and cruel, offsetting the rigid trappings of the period costume drama – and Lanthimos’ usual cold eye – like a lively rush of blood to the head. Just as every swig of hard liquor comes with a burn, this certainly gets a little long in the tooth during the last hour. While I can’t say I wasn’t happy to see it end, the film’s last stylistic gambit in that final overlaying of shots twists the knife just enough to ensure you leave the film puzzling it over rather than starting to forget it. It’s not often you see an Awards contender that looks and sounds this fucking strange.

Watched at the cinema

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