Yorgos Lanthimos Only Wants to Be Your Problematic ‘Favourite’

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At one point in The Favourite, Emma Stone violently smashes herself on the nose with a book. This type of facial self-harm has become something of a motif for Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos. After showing an actress slapping and strangling herself during rehearsal in his 2005 debut, Kinetta, his signature move emerged in Dogtooth — the violent, memorable Greek film from 2009 that marked Lanthimos as a European director to watch. Facing her bathroom mirror, a desperate young woman (frequent Lanthimos collaborator Angeliki Papoulia) hits herself repeatedly to try to lose her “dogtooth” — actually a regular canine that her gaslighting parents have convinced her she has to outgrow before she can finally leave the house and explore the world. A few years later in the Oscar-nominated The Lobster, Ben Whishaw fakes a chronic nose bleed, while in the climax, Colin Farrell prepares to blind himself with knives for love. For Lanthimos, the end often justifies the most harrowing of means.

Manuela Lazicringer, essay