The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos never plays by the rules, and the trailer for his new film promises to be a royal pain for traditionalists. Lanthimos doesn’t follow cinematic trends but typically stays on brand with his surrealist style. In the trailer, power dynamics play out in 18th Century England. Prepare yourself for some devilish fun.
Set in the early 1700s, The Favourite examines the relationship between Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) and two cousins (Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone) hoping to climb the royal ladder. While both Colman and Weisz previously starred in the 2015 film The Lobster, of which Lanthimos received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, Stone makes her debut in the director’s bizarre cinematic universe. This time around with The Favourite, personal quirks can uplift one’s status just as quickly as they can bring one down.
Today, FOX Searchlight released The Favourite’s first teaser trailer, a wild ride full of bold visuals and suggestive dialogue. While many historical films mostly value lush production design and melodrama, Lanthimos shows that he’s more interested in keeping the audience off balance. Within the clip’s first 20 seconds, the power dynamics play out, as Colman’s Queen Anne holds court, Weisz’s Sarah Churchill plays the mediator, and Emma Stone’s Abigail Masham literally falls flat on her face.
In this narrative, chaos reigns supreme, as Lanthimos’ trademark audio design creates the atmosphere while off-kilter conversations highlight the director’s knack for interpretive dialogue, most notably when Stone’s character embraces the idea of being “stripped and whipped.” Visually, the interior sequences retain a traditional look, while the exterior shots are more colorful. Clearly, based on the splattering of faces with food and/or blood, Lanthimos is less concerned about the sacred and more interested in the profane.
The Favourite features the cinematography of Robbie Ryan - who previously collaborated with Noah Baumbach for the 2017 Netflix film The Meyerowitz Stories - and co-stars Nicholas Hoult (Hank McCoy in the X-Men franchise) and Joe Alwyn (Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk). In the past, Lanthimos worked with primarily Greek performers for black comedies like Dogtooth (2009) and Alps (2011), but he landed an A-lister in Colin Farrell for The Lobster and his most recent film, 2017’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Though Lanthimos has succeeded with bizarre narratives that deconstruct communication between men and women, The Favourite will seemingly focus more on the female experience, and the consequences of being a royal pain.
At first glance, some viewers might not embrace a historical drama like The Favourite. But if you take one look at the trailer, it’s evident that Lanthimos will offer a unique spin on traditional genre tropes.
Source: FOX Searchlight/YouTube