By this point, following on from Dogtooth, The Lobster, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, you’re either on board with Greek weirdo Yorgos Lanthimos or you’re not. He’s a provocateur who seemingly doesn’t care if his audience likes his stuff, using genre tropes to deliver searing, nigh-misanthropic takes on human nature, relationship dynamics, and the lies we tell ourselves and each other to get through the day. The man’s work is not for everyone. That won’t stop every costume drama fan from settling in for a matinee viewing of The Favourite and getting their wig absolutely flipped by whatever the hell Yorgos is up to this time, but we will do our best to circumvent that: DO NOT MISTAKE THE FAVOURITE FOR A NORMAL PERIOD DRAMA. THINGS ARE GONNA GET STRANGE.
Ahem. You’re welcome.
But how weird? “Very” is the short answer, but not particularly helpful. All we know at this stage is that the film, officially described as a “…bawdy, acerbic tale of royal intrigue, passion, envy, and betrayal,” is set in the court of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) and concerns the love triangle that develops between her, her closest advisor, Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz), and Sarah’s young cousin Abigail Masham (Emma Stone), who attracts the Queen’s attention when she arrives at court. Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn, and Mark Gatiss co-star.
“I would say it’s a comedy. I think he would say it’s a comedy,” Weisz has said. “It’s funny. It’s different in that it’s not an imagined world, almost all of it really happened. There are some things that are dreamt up, but it’s English history, so it’s not just a Yorgosian dystopia or fairy tale.”
Now that sounds like a slightly transgressive but fairly standard narrative model, but don’t be fooled – Lanthimos is a total weapon. This is going to be great. And by great, we mean weird, controversial, and upsetting. We just don’t know how yet.
The Favourite is out on December 26, 2018.