Irish Film Review: The Favourite

DIR: Yorgos Lanthimos • WRI: Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara • PRO: Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Yorgos Lanthimos, Lee Magiday • DOP: Robbie Ryan • ED: Yorgos Mavropsaridis • DES: Fiona Crombie •  CAST: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz

The Favourite just might be Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ crowning achievement. Lanthimos initially garnered recognition for his acclaimed film Dogtooth, and has successfully built on this with follow-ups  Alps, The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

The Favourite is a monstrous regal satire set during early 18th-century England. And like any Lanthimos film, The Favourite is a strange creature, yet in many ways, it’s probably his most accessible and endearing. We’re immediately brought into a world built on a foundation of royal pomp and carnivorous manners, which lend to the presiding absurdist comic tone. But underneath the veneer of aristocratic fashion and elaborate dances is a world of barbarous cruelty, betrayal, cunning, and cunnilingus. In short, very quickly everything we think we know about the period film is subverted through the brutal absurdity of Lanthimos’ deranged vision.

So it’s the 18th century, and while England is at war with France, Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) is bedbound, and her closest friend and council the Duchess of Malborough Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) governs on her behalf. But this loyalty and love is a subterfuge for the Duchesses’ own quest for power. The Duchess is intent on continuing the war if it guarantees her personal advancement, and will even go as far as to tax the Queen’s people. But the Duchesses’ desire is at odds with esteemed trailblazing Tory and landowner Lord Harley (Nicholas Hoult), who is disgruntled by the proposed land tax and tries to persuade the Queen of this. Of course, then along comes Abigail Hill (Emma Stone), a disgraced relative of the Duchess, whom she begs for work.  Abigail impresses the Duchess and rises quickly up the ranks. But when Abigail’s desire earns the favour of the Queen too, this brings the Duchesses’ ambitions into doubt and puts her at odds with Abigail.

 

The script was crafted by writers Deborah Davis and Tony Mcnamara. It’s a  crazed work of royal madness that seems to strike straight to the heart of the zeitgeist. The script is toxically comic, the comedy is opulent yet fiercely dark, but there’s a richness to the absurdity which keeps it grounded in a clear emotional reality, even when logic seems to go out the window.

The savagery of Lanthimos’ vision is served honourably by his confidant in arms, Irish cinematographer Robbie Ryan. Ryan’s cinematography injects a distinct sense of chaos and disorder into the aesthetic decorum and pomp of the 1700s. Together Lanthimos and Ryan boldly shape a perspective of the past that’s grossly distorted, both literally and metaphorically, and the film towers because of it.

The performances are staggering and endearingly comic. Rachel Weisz brings an intoxicating wickedness to her role as the Duchess, and Olivia Colman radiates a triumphant ignorance and warmth as Queen Anne. And then there’s Emma Stone, who just kills it, and brings a fierce sense of charm and duplicity to Abigail. Lanthimos really seems to have struck gold with The Favorite; it’s a terse tale fit for the chaos of the times that’s unrepentant in its originality, it’s like a cross breed of Barry Lyndon meets Doctor Strangelove with perhaps a bit of David Lynch thrown into the mix for good measure, go check it out.

Michael Lee

119 minutes
15A (see IFCO for details)
The Favourite is released 1st January 2019

 

 

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Caitriona Balfe & ‘The Favourite’ Feature amongst Golden Globe Nominations

 

Golden Globe Irish Nominations

The Favourite, the new Irish-produced film from The Lobster director Yorgos Lanthimos, chalked up 5 Golden Globe® nominations, including Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, Best Screenplay and a Best Actress nomination for Olivia Colman in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy and Best Supporting Actress noms for both Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz.

Element Pictures’ Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe commented ‘”These nominations are a brilliant tribute to the team behind The Favourite including our director Yorgos Lanthimos and our incredible cast and crew. They  will also really help spur the positive box office in the US and beyond.”

Caitriona Balfe

Also of Irish interest, Caitriona Balfe was nominated Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series for Outlander. It’s the fourth year in a row Caitriona has been nominated.

The full list of 2019 Golden Globe Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Amy Adams (“Sharp Objects”)
Patricia Arquette (“Escape at Dannemora”)
Connie Britton (“Dirty John”)
Laura Dern (“The Tale”)
Regina King (“Seven Seconds”)

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy
“Barry” (HBO)
“The Good Place” (NBC)
“Kidding” (Showtime)
“The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language
“Capernaum”
“Girl”
“Never Look Away”
“Roma”
“Shoplifters”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Antonio Banderas
Daniel Bruhl
Darren Criss
Benedict Cumberbatch
Hugh Grant

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Alex Bornstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Patricia Clarkson (Sharp Objects)
Penelope Cruz (The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)
Thandie Newton (Westworld)
Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Best Original Score – Motion Picture
Marco Beltrami (“A Quiet Place”)
Alexandre Desplat (“Isle of Dogs”)
Ludwig Göransson (“Black Panther”)
Justin Hurwitz (“First Man”)
Marc Shaiman (“Mary Poppins Returns”)

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
“The Alienist” (TNT)
“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)
“Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime)
“Sharp Objects” (HBO)
“A Very English Scandal” (Amazon)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Alan Arkin
Kieran Culkin
Edgar Ramirez
Ben Whishaw
Henry Winkler

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”)
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (“The Favourite”)
Barry Jenkins (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Adam McKay (“Vice”)
Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie (“Green Book”)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Kristen Bell
Candice Bergen
Alison Brie
Rachel Brosnahan
Debra Messing

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Sasha Baron Cohen (Who Is America?)
Jim Carrey (Kidding)
Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method)
Donald Glover (Atlanta)
Bill Hader (#Barry)

Best Motion Picture – Animated
“Incredibles 2”
“Isle of Dogs”
“Mirai”
“Ralph Breaks the Internet”
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama
Caitriona Balfe (“Outlander”)
Elisabeth Moss (“Handmaid’s Tale”)
Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”)
Julia Roberts (“Homecoming”)
Keri Russell (“The Americans”)

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Christian Bale (“Vice”)
Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
Viggo Mortensen (“Green Book”)
Robert Redford (“The Old Man & the Gun”)
John C. Reilly (“Stan & Ollie”)

Best Director – Motion Picture
Bradley Cooper
Alfonso Cuaron
Peter Farrelly
Spike Lee
Adam McKay

Best Television Series – Drama
“The Americans”
“Bodyguard”
“Homecoming”
“Killing Eve”
“Pose”

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture
Amy Adams
Claire Foy
Regina King
Emma Stone
Rachel Weisz

Best Original Song – Motion Picture
“All the Stars” (“Black Panther”)
“Girl in the Movies” (“Dumplin’”)
“Requiem For A Private War” (“A Private War”)
“Revelation’ (“Boy Erased”)
“Shallow” (“A Star Is Born”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama
Jason Bateman
Stephan James
Richard Madden
Billy Porter
Matthew Rhys

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture
Mahershala Ali
Timothee Chalamet
Adam Driver
Richard E. Grant
Sam Rockwell

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Glenn Close (“The Wife”)
Lady Gaga (“A Star Is Born”)
Nicole Kidman (“Destroyer”)
Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Rosamund Pike (“A Private War”)

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Emily Blunt
Olivia Colman
Elsie Fisher
Charlize Theron
Constance Wu

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
Bradley Cooper
Willem Dafoe
Lucas Hedges
Rami Malek
John David Washington

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Crazy Rich Asians
The Favourite
Green Book
Mary Poppins Returns
Vice

Best Motion Picture – Drama
“Black Panther”
“BlacKkKlansman”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“If Beale Streat Could Talk”
“A Star Is Born”

 

The 76th annual Golden Globe awards take place on 6th January 2019.

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The Favourite Wins Big at British Independent Film Awards

 

The Irish produced film The Favourite picked up a record-breaking 10 wins at the British Independent Film awards.

Yorgos Lanthimos’  film scooped some of the major awards  including the night’s main prize, best British Independent Film, as well as best Director for Lanthimos and best Screenplay for writers Deborah Davis and Tony Mcnamara. Following her win at Venice, Olivia Colman picked up the award for Best Actress with her co-star Rachel Weisz winning best supporting actress.

Commenting on the wins, Element Pictures Producer Ed Guiney said “I’m thrilled for all involved in The Favourite we had a wonderful cast and crew who worked on this film led by visionary director Yorgos Lanthimos and we’re all hugely grateful to BIFA for this massive recognition. “

Other wins on the night for The Favourite were best casting for Dixie Chassay, best cinematography for Robbie Ryan, best costume design for Sandy Powell, best make up and hair design for Nadia Stacey and best production design for Fiona Crombie.

The Favourite will be released in Ireland on 1st January 2019.

 

Full list of awards

Best British independent film The Favourite
Best director Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Best screenplay The Favourite
Best actress Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Best actor Joe Cole, A Prayer Before Dawn
Best supporting actress Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Best supporting actor Alessandro Nivola, Disobedience
Best casting The Favourite
Best costume design The Favourite
Best cinematography The Favourite
Best editing American Animals
Best effects Early Man
Best make up & hair design The Favourite
Best music You Were Never Really Here
Best production design The Favourite
Best sound You Were Never Really Here
Best documentary Evelyn
Best British short film The Big Day
Most promising newcomer Jessie Buckley, Beast
The Douglas Hickox award for best debut director Richard Billingham, Ray & Liz
Debut screenwriter Bart Layton, American Animals
Breakthrough producer Jacqui Davies, Ray & Liz
Discovery award Voyageuse
Best international independent film Roma

 

 

 

Irish Film Review @ Cork Film Festival: The Favourite

 

 

 

 

 

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Irish Film Review @ Cork Film Festival: The Favourite

 

Charline Fernandez takes a break from duck racing and pineapple eating to send us this review of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite from the Cork Film Festival.

 

Royal satire The Favourite is a brilliant dark comedy, shattering notions of aristocratic decency with glee. Screening as part of Cork Film Festival, Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest had its audience at the Everyman Theatre on Saturday in howls of laughter.

Set in the early 18th century, England and France are at war. However, the real battle is taking place in the Royal Palace. Two cousins are fighting for the attention of the childish and ill Queen Anne (Olivia Colman – The Iron Lady, The Lobster). Her closest friend is Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz – Youth, Disobedience), a strong, determined woman with a sharp tongue. Sarah’s distant cousin Abigail (Emma Stone – La La Land) is a former noble fallen on hard times attempting to social climb.

Although one could expect a formal atmosphere stressing a rigid and romanticized type of life, The Favourite subverts all expectations of typical historical drama, feeling like a breath of fresh air. Oscillating between tense and grotesque moments, the narrative keeps surprising the viewer. A recurrent element playing on these contrasts is the presence of tamed ducks – who race for the court’s pleasure – punctuating the conversations with their quacks.

Breaking the stereotype of the old princess movies, one scene shows new servant Abigail in a wood picking up plant medicine. Suddenly, a charismatic young man appears on his horse looking at the beautiful seemingly innocent person. However, the tables are soon turned when the lady bites the lip of the noble in her bedroom and literally kicks his ass during a twisted sort of role play in the same forest.

The subversion even extends into the editing as The Favourite is happy playing with the codes of filmmaking. Scenes fade in on one another resulting in a corny superimposition of images, which creates a dissonance between old-school historical drama and Lanthimos’ use of more provocative elements of modern filmmaking. Divided into several acts, the titles are often taken from a character’s venomous line.

Some of the humour even dares to cross the line of historical inaccuracies. Sofia Coppola had already challenged the conventional ballroom scene in Marie-Antoinette, having its central royal figures dancing to punk-rock band Siouxsie and The Banshees. Here, Lanthimos takes it further with a dance between Lady Sarah and a noble that starts old-school but quickly switches hilariously into more contemporary choreography with break dance and hip-hop movements.

The script is just one verbal swordplay after another, particularly the scenes involving Nicholas Hoult’s Robert Harley, a master manipulator campaigning for lower taxes. While its three central women shine throughout, the X-Men actor has his fair share of the screenplay’s provocative lines. When Abigail asks him for a favour, he dryly replies: “Favour is a breeze that shifts direction all the time. Then in an instant you’re back to sleeping with a bunch of scabrous whores.”

The cinematography from Robbie Ryan adds to the non-conformity of the film. Fish-eye lenses are strategically placed in the corner of the enormous rooms while low-angle shots breeze through endless corridors. These two combined elements create a sense of distorted reality. The same goes for the soundtrack announcing the tone from the beginning. Although it is a classical score in the opening scene, the long silences in the melody create some dissonance. As the film continues, electronic notes become more discordant.

While The Favourite is hysterically funny, Lanthimos’ does not skirt over the darkness of the story he is telling, leaving it to linger heavily in the last act. The decadence of the members of the court leads to a tragic ending where all protagonists are prisoners – for better or worse – of their own condition despite all their efforts to escape.

In Lanthimos’ satire, power corrupts. Yet, to his credit he never forgets the people caught in the power plays.

 

The Favourite screened on Saturday, 10th November 2018 as part of the Cork Film Festival

 

 

 

 

 

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