The Favourite is director Yorgos Lanthimos at his most subdued which results in a far more accessible film than his two previous: The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Instead of his signature style of disorienting sequences and sterile dialogue that can come across as pretentious, Lanthimos opts for a more straightforward visual approach and robust character interactions in The Favourite. Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, and Olivia Colman seize this opportunity and turn in brilliant performances that will have them continuing their on-screen chess match with each other during awards season.
While not a full-on comedy, The Favourite is primed with dark humor at every turn. Lanthimos’ films are typically bleak, but this film trends more towards the light and benefits greatly from it. The moments of levity feel free of burden whereas in the aforementioned Deer and Lobster those moments feel as though they clash with the rest of the film in an uncomfortable dissonance. The somewhat highbrow, arthouse approach to comedy — in a period piece, no less — used by Lanthimos’ makes the film feel fresh and unique in a similar way to what Ari Aster’s approach to horror did for Hereditary.