Venice Film Review: ‘The Favourite’

From the postmodern domestic sadism of “Dogtooth” to the leadenly fateful “mythic” phantasmagoria of “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” I can’t say the cinema of Yorgos Lanthimos has ever been my cup of high-end art poison.

Yet even from my doubting vantage, it’s hard to deny that Lanthimos has found an ideal vehicle for his pitiless gaze and darkly mocking formal severity in “The Favourite.” It’s a perfectly cut diamond of a movie — a finely executed, coldly entertaining entry in the genre of savage misanthropic baroque costume drama.

Set in the court of Queen Anne during the early 1700s, with jaunty dollops of classical music playing in heavily ironic counterpart to all the low-minded chicanery, the movie is “Barry Lyndon” meets “Dangerous Liaisons,” with blood flourishes lifted from Peter Greenaway.

Lanthimos, try as he might, will never be Stanley Kubrick, but he doesn’t have to be.

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