Tag Archives: Yorgos Lanthimos

The Favourite (2018) Review

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Sexual material, offensive language and content that may disturb
Cast:
Olivia Colman as Anne
Emma Stone as Abigail Hill
Rachel Weisz as Sarah Churchill
Nicholas Hoult as Robert Harley
Joe Alwyn as Samuel Masham
Mark Gatiss as John Churchill
James Smith as Sidney Godolphin
Jenny Rainsford as Mae
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

In the early 18th century, England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving. 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 and mercurial temper. 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 to return to her aristocratic roots.

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The Favourite is a movie I was looking forward to. While Yorgos Lanthimos isn’t a director for everyone, I have watched The Lobster and Killing of a Sacred Deer and I liked them both, and it would be interesting to see him take on a period piece. On top of that it’s also starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Nicholas Hoult, all very talented actors. The trailer was very weird and darkly hilarious and looked like something truly unique, so all in all I was really excited for The Favourite. Thankfully The Favourite lived up to all the hype, with the writing, performances and direction all accompanying each other excellently.

This is the first script directed by Yorgos that he didn’t write, with the script instead coming from Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, which was written in the late 90s but was finally adapted to the big screen in 2018. While there’s still some movies I need to get around to watch, I’m pretty sure that The Favourite is the most quotable movie of the year. The dialogue is incredibly sharp, well written and hilarious. The Favourite is actually only 2 hours long and throughout that entire runtime I was really entertained, there was not a single moment where I thought the movie dragged. The Favourite really is one of the best written movies of the year. The Favourite is a dark comedy, and it definitely leans more into being a comedy than a drama. Much of the comedy is poking fun at things that happened at the time like how duck racing was a thing apparently and a very bizarre dance scene involving Rachel Weisz and another character (although the movie doesn’t fall into spoof territory either). Some of the comedy however also comes from situations as well as from the hilarious dialogue (as previously mention). At times The Favourite also leans into the more dramatic and tragic side of the story, and when it does take the forefront in some scenes, it doesn’t feel out of place and really works. The third act is especially tragic and dark. Not spoiling anything, but while I think the ending really works, I’m not quite sure what to make of the last shot of the whole film.

The cast here all did a great job. Something interesting is the way that the actors are directed here. In Yorgos’s other films, while the actors are great in their roles they all speak their dialogue and act in this very unnatural way, and it feels like a very deliberate decision by the director. With The Favourite however, they seemed to have been given much more freedom and seem to act a little more natural. The three main women, Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone are all fantastic in their roles, each giving at the very least one of their best performances of their careers. Olivia Colman plays Queen Anne and her character is very complex, with many layers to her and her behaviour constantly changing from scene to scene and sometimes within the same scene. It’s both a comedic performance and a tragic performance, and Colman effortlessly is great in the role. Rachel Weisz is great as Sarah, the queen’s ‘favourite’ at the beginning of the film, who is her advisor and often the one steering her and making the decisions for her. Emma Stone has already proven herself to be a really great actress but this is really her best performance yet as Abigail, a servant looking to work her way back up the royal ranks. Both of them are fighting over trying to be ‘The Favourite’ and like with Colman’s character, aren’t all that they initially seem to be. Sarah is at first shown to be pretty ruthless and cold, especially towards Anne, however you eventually see more sides to her and that relationship as the story goes on. Same goes for Abigail, at the beginning she is much more of a likable character and one that the audience can seemingly root for, however as time goes on she shows herself to be very manipulative and not at all how she initially appeared to be. All 3 of them have a lot to work with, with their characters being very multi-layered. They aren’t necessarily likable or what you would call ‘good people’ but they are fascinating and entertaining to watch. The supporting cast are also great but it’s Nicholas Hoult who surprisingly stands out among them. Hoult has proven his talents many times before but he really managed to make himself stand out even among the phenomenal performances by the main 3 leads. He plays such a scheming and hilarious politician character and he steals every scene that he’s in. Definitely a performance that deserves a lot more praise than he’s been receiving.

You can definitely tell that this is a Yorgos Lanthimos film with the way the film is directed. There are many parts to the film that feel weird, whether it be with the cinematography, the camera movements, the use of slow-mo, it has that familiar strange vibe that you get from Lanthimos’s other films, and I loved it. The Favourite really is a period piece movie like you’ve never seen it before. With that said, the production design, costumes, really all of those aspects at a level of quality that you’d expect from most period piece movies, it feels authentic in its setting. The use of music was also really great, and really added a lot to the film whenever it was used. The only negative I found with the direction was the use of fish eye lens. I get that it was used to give off a really off-putting and weird vibe, but some of the wide angle shots did that well enough, going fish eye was a little overkill and it was more often than not used in just random moments that don’t call for that. It’s a tad distracting but nothing movie-breaking.

With its killer script, great direction and fantastic performances, The Favourite is one of the best films of the year. It’s also my favourite film by Yorgos Lanthimos, it’s certainly his most entertaining and accessible movie. Definitely a big awards player (and deservedly so), The Favourite is worth a watch whenever you can see it.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, cruelty & sex scenes
Cast
Colin Farrell as Steven Murphy
Nicole Kidman as Anna Murphy
Barry Keoghan as Martin
Raffey Cassidy as Kim Murphy
Sunny Suljic as Bob Murphy
Alicia Silverstone as Martin’s mother
Bill Camp as Matthew
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Dr. Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) is a renowned cardiovascular surgeon who presides over a spotless household with his wife (Nicole Kidman) and two children (Raffey Cassidy and Sunny Suljic). Lurking at the margins of his idyllic suburban existence is Martin (Barry Keoghan), a fatherless teen who insinuates himself into the doctor’s life in gradually unsettling ways. Soon, the full scope of Martin’s intent becomes menacingly clear when he confronts Steven with a long-forgotten transgression that will shatter his domestic bliss forever.

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I didn’t know what to expect from The Killing of a Sacred Deer. I saw director Yorgos Lanthimos’s previous film The Lobster, which I thought was pretty good. I also could tell based on the trailer and reactions knew that it was going to be odd and I heard that it was a pretty bizarre and disturbing film which has divided some audience. I have to say that I personally really liked it, it’s such an original and bizarre movie with excellent direction and great performances, though I can see why it has divided people.

I didn’t know too much about Killing of a Sacred Deer aside from the brief premise and the trailer before watching it. Having finally seen the movie, I’m glad I didn’t know anything more about it, I recommend not knowing too much about this movie before watching it. Because of this, I don’t want to go into too much depth regarding the plot. The dialogue is off from what normal people say but something about it just works. It does have a slow pace but it had my attention and interested. By the time it reached the halfway point, after a lot of bizarre things have happened, I was completely riveted. The film is not extremely bloody but it gets under your skin. Personally I wasn’t uncomfortable for a large portion of the movie, I’m not easily disturbed. However I felt really unnerved throughout most of the film, there were some moments that really surprised me and had me on edge. There is particularly a couple of scenes which were shocking to say the least. I have a feeling I will need to rewatch this movie to fully get everything because its very metaphorical (if you don’t understand a lot of the metaphors you might be a little lost when watching this). However I will say that on my first viewing I got a lot out of it, and understood most of it. So I was satisfied with the story overall.

The acting is all around great. An interesting thing should be noted about the acting, Colin Farrell has said that Lanthimos doesn’t give his actors any direction and just allows them to act and play it how they want, so it’s a real credit to the cast for pulling off great performances with little to no direction. Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman play husband and wife and they were great. Everyone in the movie does act and speaks a little unnaturally (that’s the directional style I suppose) but they get their chances to shine. Barry Keoghan is the highlight here though, as a teenager who has an interesting relationship with Colin Farrell (which I won’t reveal of course). Without going into too much depth, I will say that Keoghan is a real screen presence, being absolutely unnerving and magnetic when he’s on screen. I can tell that he has a long career ahead of him. The children of Farrell and Kidman played by Raffey Cassidy and Sunny Suljic were really good as well, as was Alicia Silverstone and Bill Camp in other supporting roles.

The direction by Yorgos Lanthimos was fantastic. It really felt creepy and unnerving throughout the whole movie. What particularly really stood out to me was the cinematography and production design, everything was well shot and really felt uneasy. There is a real emptiness that can be seen, it feels like something is off. There were even times where it felt Stanley Kubrick-esque. The music was also used incredibly well, really amping up the intensity. The loud pianos keys and the screeching violins makes everything all the more uncomfortable.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is definitely not for everyone, it can be very unnerving, disturbing and a little drawn out, also it might require deeper thought in order to understand. I also feel like this will be a movie that will require multiple viewings to fully interpret. However if this is something you might want to watch, give it a go with an open mind and try not to know too much about it beforehand. If you like Yorgos Lanthimos’s other films like The Lobster, you will probably like this. I personally had a great time with it and my experience will only improve with future viewings. However all in all I can’t say for certain whether you’ll like this movie or not.