Film Review: THE FAVOURITE (UK/USA 2018) ****

The Favourite Poster
Trailer

In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne (Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah (Weisz) governs the country in her stead. When a new servant Abigail (Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.

Director:

Yorgos Lanthimos

Lanthimos’s latest film after DOGTOOTH, THE LOBSTER and THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER is his most extravagant, with a period setting in a castle with royalty as its subject.

It is the early 18th century when England is at war with the French though the film opens oddly enough with royalty involved with duck racing and pineapple eating.  The poor are taxed and the poor go to war.   A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health, temper and sexual desires .   When a new servant Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.  Sarah takes Abigail under her wing and Abigail sees a chance at a return to her aristocratic roots.   Abigail schemes to fill in as the Queen’s companion. Their burgeoning friendship gives her a chance to fulfil her ambitions and she will not let woman, man, politics or rabbit stand in her way.

THE FAVOURITE stands as a film that those familiar with Lanthimos will find quite similar to his last movie THE KILLNG OF A SACRED DEER.  As in both films, the status quo of a family is challenged (Farrell’s in DEER and Queen Anne’s in FAVOURITE).  Both sees the arrival of a stranger who is revealed to have closer connections with the family that will shake formalities and turn the family upside down for better or for worse.  Though Lanthimos’s favourite actor Colin Farrell is not in this film, one can see him inhabiting a similar character now taken on by Nicholas Hoult.  THE FAVOURITE also contains Lanthimos’s odd pounding soundtrack and his fade outs to black.  

Lanthimos sees that the audience takes the side of Emma Stone from the very start when she falls flat with her face onto the mud on arrival at the castle.  She can do no wrong, compared to Lady Sarah that the script by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara ensures the audience dislikes from start to finish.

Both films contain odd dialogue that are funny because they can occur at the least likely moment.  THE FAVOURITE’s best line is when Queen Anne rebutting Lady Sarah when asked to dismiss Abigail: “I will not, I enjoy having her tongue inside me.”  Those unfamiliar with Lanthimos previous films (and better still if the trailer is not seen beforehand) will likely find THE FAVOURITE more amusing, shocking and refreshing while those who are will find him doing the same tricks in a different setting.  All the main actors  Weisz, Stone and Colman have been in Lanthimos past films.  Surprises  are no more surprises if they are expected to occur.  One can say the same for a Lanthimos film – to expect surprise after surprise.  It would be a surprise if his films did not shock or surprise. Still. Lanthimos’s The FAVOURITE succeeds well in its ambitions.  But the dialogue (in literally the Queen’s English) – except one would imagine the words ‘cunt’ and ‘fuck’ were not used in those times – is sped up several notches compared to the slow dialogue in Lanthimos’s other entries.

THE FAVOURITE arrives after the Venice International Film Festival with favourable reviews.

Trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYb-wkehT1g

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Full Review: THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER (UK/Ireland 2017) ****

Steven, a charismatic surgeon, is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behavior of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister.

Director:

Yorgos Lanthimos

 

Greek director (DOGTOOTH and THE LOBSTER) Yourgos Lanthimos’ latest feature is a supernatural psychological thriller that is the most difficult to watch despite its bouts of black humour.  The reason the film is titled THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER becomes apparent at the film’s end and exposing the reason would spoilt the film’s key plot point.

The film follows Dr. Steven Murphy (Farrell), a cardiac surgeon who is first seen at a diner meeting with a 16-year-old named Martin (Barry Keoghan).  The doctor buys the boy an expensive watch as a present.  The relationship between the two is revealed as the film goes on.  Steven introduces Martin to his wife (Nicole Kidman) and two children.  Martin, determined to ingratiate himself into this unfamiliar new family, becomes something like an adopted son.  Strange things begin to happen with the children developing paralysis right out of the blue.  Dr. Murphy and his team of surgeons are unable to put a medical explanation for the illnesses.

Secrets start coming out of the closet.  Director Lanthimos unveils bits at a time, thus keeping the audience in anticipation.  Revealing more of the plot in this review will definitely spoil ones enjoyment of the film, and thus no more of the story will be revealed.

It is safe to say that the film gets more and more serious and ends up becoming quite a disturbing watch.  Lanthimos does not skimp on the violence and language.  The film has a lot of anger and the anger is slowly but surely unleashed by every one in the part concerned.

The humour often comes in the form of inconsequential dialogue, often spoken by the main character, Dr. Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell).  Hunour is also provided in the way drain information, is relayed to the audience.  For example, Steven tells his colleague out of the blue for no reason, that his daughter has begun her menstruation.

The sex scene between husband and wife is as expected a strange one, but sufficiently erotic.  Kidman has an almost perfect body.  Farrell, Kidman and Keoghan all deliver chilling performances.

The film demands the audience sit back and immerse themselves in the environment of horror.  The film is clear a horror film with scary results that resulted in quite a few of the audience at the screening walking out.

The film uses quite a bit of choral music wit a scene of a scene of the daughter singing in the choir.  Sound is also used effectively as when Steven takes off his wife’s panties, like the snapping sound of him taking off his surgical gloves.

The film contains some very scary scenes.  These include the ones with the son and daughter both paralyzed from the waste down, dragging their bodies around the house, up and down the stairs using their arms.  There is also an almost unwatchable scene of Russian Roulette

THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER is a well executed psychological and emotional horror film.  Not for everyone!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOxiMR6aL74

TIFF 2017 Movie Review: THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER (UK/Ireland 2017) ***1/2

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer Poster
Steven, a charismatic surgeon, is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behavior of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister.

Director:

Yorgos Lanthimos

Stars:

Nicole KidmanAlicia SilverstoneColin Farrell
 

Greek director (DOGTOOTH and THE LOBSTER) Yourgos Lanthimos’s latest feature is a supernatural psychological thriller that is the most difficult to watch despite its bouts of black humour.

The film follows Dr. Steven Murphy (Farrell), a cardiac surgeon who is first seen at a diner meeting with a 16-year-old named Martin (Barry Keoghan).

The doctor buys the boy an expensive watch as a present. The relationship between the two is revealed as the film goes on. Steven introduces Martin to his wife (Nicole Kidman) and two children. Martin, determined to ingratiate himself into this unfamiliar new family, becomes something like an adopted son. Strange things begin to happen with the children developing paralysis right out of the blue.

Secrets start coming out of the closet. Director Lanthimos unveils bits at a time, thus keeping the audience in anticipation. It is safe to say that the film gets more and more serious and ends up becoming quite a disturbing watch. Lanthimos does not skimp on the violence and language.

The film has a lot of anger and the anger is slowly but surely unleashed by every one in the party concerned. THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER is a well executed psychological and emotional horror film but not for everyone!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQFdGfwChtw

THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER