the favourite

DIRECTOR: Yorgos Lanthimos (the lobster, the killing of a scared deer)
STARRING: olivia coleman, rachel weisz, emma stone, and nicholas hoult

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

★★★★★

In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend, Lady Sarah, governs the country in her stead. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.

Missing the cut throat political manoeuvring of House of Cards or Game of Thrones? Like your period dramas not to be that tame? Well tighten your corset and powder your wig. The Favourite is unlike any period drama you've ever seen and its deliciously good. 

In the early 18th century, England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving. A frail Queen Anne occupies the throne, and her close friend Lady Sarah governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne's ill health and mercurial temper. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Sarah takes Abigail under her wing, and Abigail sees a chance to return to her aristocratic roots.

The Favourite is an absolute riot. Its darkly funny, filled with political intrigue, and so well acted that you'll be raving about it for weeks. The story is as cut throat as an episode of Game of Thrones as Lady Sarah and Abigail jockey for political position as they seek to be the favourite of the frail Queen Anne. Each contender will do anything including sleeping with the Queen or poisoning the other to get what they want. 

As I was driving home from this screening and thinking about the movie I realised that all the male characters in The Favourite are merely background players. It is both refreshing and remarkably subtle. 

Coleman, Weisz, and Stone - the acting powerhouse trinity in The Favourite are almost too good for words but I will try. Olivia Coleman is magnificent both powerful in rage and crippled in her ever increasing ailments. There is a scene in which Lady Sarah is dancing with a man with Queen Anne (Coleman) looking on. We witness Queen Anne go from happy to sullen and jealous. Not a word is spoken but everything she feels in that moment is written all over her face. 

Rachel Weisz is the least hysterical of the three - almost playing the straight man in this often comic film. But she is the glue that holds all three together. Emma Stone is perfect in her wooing of the Queen and is particularly wonderful as she pretends, in one scene, to have been badly hurt by her rival Lady Sarah.

Its refreshing, its rude, its hilarious and magnificently acted. It might not be the kind of period drama you'd take your grandmother to but its absolutely delicious.  

★★★★★

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The Favourite is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital from all good disc and digital retailers. 

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