The Favourite: A Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Yes, that is the name of a Kanye West album and yes it is the most fitting summary of this tragicomedy film set 300 years ago, bristling with outstanding performances and razor sharp writing.

Olivia Coleman, playing Queen Anne, has already picked up a Golden Globe for her portrayal of the disease-ridden, depressed, overweight and childlike monarch, while Emma Stone and Rachael Weisz have also enjoyed lavish praise for their own performances.

The film shows Stone and Weisz, contest for the favour of the mentally and physically fragile Queen, something which starts out as a game that the Monarch seems to enjoy, but quickly becomes much more sinister and damaging.

Rachael Weisz in the Favourite

That’s not to say that the film forgets to be funny halfway through, it simply combines its humor with the steady increase of suffering felt by Queen Anne.

As these moments arrive, the Queen’s erratic and sorrowful behaviour makes more sense, changing the perception of her as a spoilt child, to somebody who is tragically damaged, isolated and in need of real support.

Unfortunately, it never comes.

Olivia Coleman in The Favourite

Instead, she is seen as something to be toyed with and used the younger and more bloodthirsty women circling below.

Yorgos Lanthimos, Director of the weirdly wonderful ‘The Lobster’ and ‘Dogtooth’, toys with his audience, making you want to back the schemes of Abigail (Stone), while hating the imperialistic dominatrix, Lady Sarah (Weisz), until the tables turn and sympathies switch three quarters into the film.

The music employed is similar to the otherworldly and sinister score from ‘Under the Skin’, ramping up the dreamlike quality of the film while building tension with scratching violin and slow drum beats throughout.

Rachael Weisz and Olivia Coleman in The Favourite

The camera work also delivers a feeling of surrealism as it swings and flips in ways that simply don’t feel natural for a ‘costume drama’.

There are several lingering extreme close-ups on Abigail, Anne and Lady Sarah at key points which draws the audience even closer into their tangled world of lies and deception.

The Favourite is sure to enjoy a strong run over the next few weeks and it deserves to enjoy all of the success and coverage that it is currently receiving.

Many of the articles and stories are revolving around the performance of Olivia Coleman, but the performances of Emma Stone and Rachael Weisz are equally outstanding and it’s likely that most people will have different opinions on who is best, something that couldn’t be better for the success of a film.

Maniac Review

The brand new Netflix Original series Maniac, came out a couple of days ago and as I’ve spent a large portion of those days indoor and horribly hungover, I managed to get through the entire series….

The brand new Netflix Original series Maniac, came out a couple of days ago and as I’ve spent a large portion of those days indoor and horribly hungover, I managed to get through the entire series….

The infallible Emma Stone and always entertaining Jonah Hill play Annie Landsberg and Owen Milgrim, two lost souls who are barely able to exist as functional adults in the real world (I think a lot of us 20 somethings will relate…)

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The first couple of episodes introduce the audience to the pair as their failings as members of society are laid bare as well as their unstable mental health. For different reasons, Annie and Owen find themselves entering into a clinical trial which promises to change the patients lives forever.

Over the course of the next eight episodes, the world is turned upside down and shaken around thoroughly. Annie takes on the form of a half-elf / half-human drunkard for an entire episode while Owen is transformed into the son of a drill wielding criminal for another.

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The supporting cast are also thrown into their own cascading version of reality as the supercomputer which is used as part of the clinical trial, begins to act in ways which we all know any supercomputer tends to, when thrown into the mix.

Maniac is a real treat for film and TV geeks as there are so many influences and subtle nods to others who have tread upon similar ground in the past.

There is a literal reference to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, as patient’s who don’t survive the trial are said to ‘McMurphy’ the name of the main character in the 1975 film featuring Jack Nicolson.

There is also a healthy dose of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich when it comes to exploring trauma, the power of the unconscious and the surreal nature of the minds ‘Blind Spots’.

MV5BMjM2Mzc2ODc4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDMzMzMzNjM@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_The real world that the characters live in, is a slightly brighter version the one created by Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049. Neon adverts are everywhere, promising a better life off world, away from the existence the characters already have.

The similarity to Stanley Kubrics 2001 a Space Odyssey is clearly apparent when looking at the characterisation of the artificial intelligence inside the supercomputer narrated by the outstanding Sally Field.

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There is also a huge amount of Wes Anderson here.

The movement of the camera alone would make you think you’re watching an Anderson flick while the quirky characters, humour, death, colours and absurdity of it all, furthers the similarities.

Finally, Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise seems to have left an impression on the makers of Maniac as the towering and intimidating architecture of the pharmaceutical giant’s headquarters are extremely close to the tower block which features in the 2015 art house film.

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But all of that does not mean that Maniac is unoriginal.

The series brought its own humor to themes which have been explored for years, while also offering a plethora of well-developed and sympathetic characters which are fantastically played.

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There are genuinely funny moments in every episode which are delivered to perfection by Stone and Hill who clearly had a huge amount of fun creating this series, however, the moments of impact are genuine and heartfelt, making this one of the best original series Netflix has produced.