Alongside Alfonso Cuaron‘s “Roma,” Thursday’s other must-see premiere at the Venice film festival was “The Favourite,” an 18th-century royal farce from off-beat Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Lobster,” “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”). Olivia Colman plays England’s sickly Queen Anne (a distant relation to the current monarch who she will portray in “The Crown”). Oscar winner Rachel Weisz is the ruler’s manipulative favorite, Lady Marlborough. Another Oscar champ, Emma Stone, is Weisz’s noblewoman cousin, Abigail, who has fallen on hard times.
“Think ‘Mean Girls’ written by Jonathan Swift,” declared Cinevie’s John Bleasdale, who positively swooned over the palace intrigue and praised all the three actresses: “The plotting is of the conniving “Dangerous Liaisons”–style, with everyone after their own agenda: all smiles and tears are fake and the innocent, the most deadly of the species. Lanthimos gives everything the Flemish crispness of a still life … but also imbues the scene with fruity vitality of a Tom Jones jaunt or a Rochester lyric.”
“The Hollywood Reporter’s” Ariston Anderson treaded a bit on the festival’s strict embargo policy and tucked some valuable opionating into his interview with Lanthimos: “The ensuing chessboard match of politics plays out like seven seasons of ‘Game of Thrones’ in two tightly woven hours, with an end that feels like it will somehow be just as satisfactory, where even the winners are losers.”
The writer even indulged in some awards season speculation by observing that “it’s impossible to not mention that Oscar buzz was abundant coming out of the screening for any of the three female leads who all popped in their roles on the screen. Each frame of the 18th-century English set mirrored perfectly an oil painting in lighting, costumes and design. Many were whispering that this was Lanthimos’ most successful film thus far.”
Indiewire’s Michael Nordine took extra care to bow down before Colman’s out-of-her-league queen: “All three members of the main trio are at their best, but it’s Colman who most deserves a coronation. One of the most consistently excellent actresses working today, she brings depth and dimension to a character who so easily could have been an unsympathetic joke.”
There is more to come on Friday, as the premieres of Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” and the Coen brothers’ anthology Western “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” are scheduled.