Only those with the darkest, most twisted sense of humour need apply for The Favourite
This movie is absolutely not for everyone...
When we're introduced to Abigail (Emma Stone), she is stuffed into an overcrowded carriage, attempting to avoid eye contact with a fellow passenger who is masturbating. Arriving at Queen Anne's (Olivia Colman) palace, she is kicked out of the carriage, landing face first in what she probably hopes is mud.
Entering the premises, meeting her distant cousin Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) in hopes of finding work after a number of years of a bad marriage and mounting, she is soon employed in the kitchens, where her fellow employees don't take kindly to new girl. They all fail to tell her how to work safely with lime, and Abigail runs screaming to find a balm for her now burning skin.
If you're reading all of this and thinking "Oh, that poor girl...", then this is not a movie for you.
However, if you read the above and couldn't help but evilly chuckle to yourself, then congratulations, because you are going to absolutely love The Favourite.
We're quickly told that Anne's mental and physical state is in near collapse, so the day-to-day running of the country now essentially falls under the rule of her close friend Sarah. However, seeing an easy way back into a life of luxury that she has grown accustomed to, Abigail sets her sights on the Queen, using her cunning and charm to become the new object of her affections.
So begins a treacherous, Machiavellian triangle of 18th century shadiness, as these women blur the lines between friends, lovers, family, and everything in between in order to get what they want, or keep what they have.
The fact that this is director Yorgos Lanthimos' (The Lobster, The Killing Of A Sacred Deer) most accessible movie probably comes down to the fact that he didn't also write the script, which is hilariously littered with more F- and C-bombs than most Scorsese films.
Instead, Lanthimos skews the visuals in his own unique way, coming across like Downton Abbey directed by Hype Williams, all fish-eye lenses and hugely ornate rooms for the characters to be horrific in.
Of course, holding it all together is that trio of incredible performances:
Colman deserves the plaudits she has already been receiving en masse for her equal parts very funny and very sad Queen Anne, a woman broken by a hard life and unable or unsure of who is safe to love.
Weisz, who already nailed Lanthimos' tone in The Lobster, gives one of her best performances in years, keeping her cards very close to her chest throughout, never letting the audience in on her true intentions until very late in the game.
And then there's Stone, showing what might have happened if Olive from Easy A decided to go full-evil, even if the reasons behind her nasty actions are fairly understandable.
Yep, this film isn't going to be for everyone, but the people who it is for will absolutely love it.
The Favourite is released in Irish cinemas on Tuesday 1 January 2019.
Clip via FoxSearchlight