The Favourite

Rated 4.0

After establishing an acridly humanist aesthetic across several singularly suffocating films, there was some question about whether Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth; The Lobster) could make the leap into the cinematic mainstream while also keeping his unique vision and voice intact. He didn’t exactly inspire confidence with last year’s comparatively straightforward The Killing of a Sacred Deer, a film that was sour and cruel without the restless invention and sucker-punch satire of his earlier efforts. All those fears are put to rest by The Favourite, a piquant costume drama about sexually charged power struggles deep within the inner circle of Queen Anne, the monarch of Great Britain in the early 18th century. Lanthimos takes a lean, sharp, witty script by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara about conniving women and weak men and imbues it with a pitiless absurdism. The result feels like an outrageously opulent cross between Dangerous Liaisons and All About Eve.