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The gifted Greek genius Yorgos Lanthimos returns with a beautiful royal rubble of a film, which in approach and atmosphere fits like a glove into the company of the already impressive catalogue pieces; containing the perfectly peculiar class acts 'The Lobster' and 'The Killing of a Sacred Deer'. Films that equally equip themselves with a distanced and deep-seated satirical ideology. But will Lanthimos write history without having written the script himself? Or will he sit as a ventriloquist doll on his own throne?

The year is 1708, England is in constant war with France and the monarch herself, Anne, is inert, incompetent and overall incapable of ruling a country. Fortunately, the politically active Sarah is standing faithfully by her side and more or less controls everything for the queen, which is very much to Sarah’s satisfaction. Right up until her cousin arrives that is, and turns everything upside down – for herself, for Sarah, the queen and the entirety of England.

As stated, Yorgos Lanthimos didn’t write the script for 'The Favourite' but his favoritism for fiendish violence, pitch-black comedy and caricature characters – who, in a fairly realistic universe, behave either half or wholly absurd – is thankfully still intact. But where the previous oddball outings did have a tendency to appear somewhat subdued and perhaps even emotionally out of reach for some, with its relatively deadpan delivery and offbeat way of building universes, ‘The Favourite’ comes off as being far more flagrant and conscious of its apparent ridicule of everything – all the way from political ruling and debate, war and peace, false facades and flashy costumes and overall high-horse "court life". All this is thrown into a blender and makes for some bloody, gut-busting fun, which enhances the satirical elements excellently!

What at first glance is a pretty little portrait is now being tactically torn apart in a whirlwind of madness, wherein the royal life is approached with an almost animalistic caveman quality, shaping up the movie nicely and sharpening the satire even more. The humor is both overstated and understated throughout, often even at the same time, and it is so carefully constructed that it makes it hard not to leave all this quirk with a smirk on your face. Lanthimos skillfully boils down the epic costume drama period piece and turns it into a domestic love triangle of both power-hungry and power-horny proportions. This is, quite simply, entertainment straight from the upper class!

The acting goes happily hand in hand down the long, empty and ephemeral hallways together with the already dark humor, which is (purposely) stiffer in its appearance than the amplified costumes those in the castle walks around in. The required accuracy with which humor is being provided is not a problem for the actors and actresses, who all seem to be "in on the joke" and also understand the balance between excessively flamboyant, predominantly repulsive and often outright offensive – and I loved to observe every bit of this madness… from a safe distance, of course.

Olivia Colman is outrageously funny from start to finish, both when she commands people around on the castle, for the benefit of herself and not the country – because she is useless in the latter department and honestly also a bit wobbly in the former – and when she cries because of her own pitiful self. Thankfully, there is a nice contrast going on here, through the more self-confident and politically conscious Rachel Weisz, which later results in the riveting rivalry between her and Emma Stone’s character, who is equally excellent in the movie, especially with her carefully executed comic timing and sophisticated mimicry.

Never has a film, which plays out inside something so cold and cynical, been augmented with such a massive amount of personality and energy thanks to director Yorgos Lanthimos, who takes on swords and lances with pitchfork and torch. Particularly the use of extreme wide-angle lenses provides a breath of fresh air to the often too-perfect period dramas, giving the audience the feeling of observing the true hollowness of the fancy upper class, as well as the associated foolish behavior and rituals, at a distance that truly gives you observatory anxiety.

There is something playful and not the least bold by granting the luxurious an unforeseen and unparalleled low-point, in which the inner royal narcissism and the expensive empty exterior is stripped down to its own ridiculousness, being left looking like the emperor's new clothes. ‘The Favourite' tosses the high life straight into the ditch and awards the audience an insight into the royal inner circle, which does not concern exclusive carriage rides or expensive carat rings. The visual language is a very significant part of Lanthimo's precious narrative, and it is a pleasure to see him point fingers at the pretty facade and the punctual schedule of a majestic monarchy – and not only succeed – but do so with pinpoint accuracy through every possible satirical bullet point.

As the twisted titan Yorgos Lanthimos is, ‘The Favourite’ sports a soundstage-filling symphony that couldn’t be more classical and traditional if it tried. The big musical arrangement just oozes fake wigs and fancy dresses and sets the apparent tone for the film… right up until the beautiful orchestra abruptly turns ominous with what seems to be the sudden disappearance of almost all of its musicians – except for one, single, monotone key still playing, which is also key to the definite tone and style luring under this feature film. It is a tone, which sends triumphant terror down through your spine and spins the lovely-looking surface out of control and finds comfort in something a lot creepier and more surreal; containing light callbacks to the simplicity and effectiveness of the horror genre.

Yorgos Lanthimos has created a biting little barbaric satire, which turns the world as we know it inside out and confronts realism with surrealism, spicing up the drab political debates and social commentary without appearing too direct or too demanding. It is weird and wonderful to flip the worlds around and have the audience look at this childish chess game of power and politics, coming off as the film representative of a court fool. As an audience we look up on the big screen while looking down on the characters that are there, clashing with each other inside a costume drama so far from the custom, that you are constantly surprised and confused the deeper you look.

Several scenes are still on your retina a good while after the film ends and it is hard to remember seeing something so crazy coming off so controlled – delivered with expertise and precision – as it is the case with ‘The Favourite’. It is, quite simply, a royal flush of a film and I bow down to Yorgos Lanthimos' ludicrous luxury service of a masterwork! ‘The Favourite’ is the fancy and fiery F-word to the world… then and now.