The Favourite

favouriteThe Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz

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.

This is a fantasy based on a hypothesis that Queen Anne was a lesbian - obviously a present-day invention.

I found it disturbing, as I was expecting the usual historical reconstruction costume drama, and I couldn't understand why the acting was so sloppy.

I think that the historical drama, given the expense of getting something like this up, would have been a better way to spend the money. But of course that wouldn't be in the running for a Best Film Oscar, as this is, as I write.

It's a film made for a particular market and will do very well. I personally found it of little interest.

Oh, and re the acting: Emma Stone is good, as usual, but it's her again; Olivia Colman is doing some Method thing and doesn't seem to be in any particular film; and Rachel Weisz looks like an actress - not any particular character.

Yorgos Lanthimos’ most recent film, The Favourite, is an outlandish black comedy following the machinations of two ladies in Queen Anne’s court as they try to win and maintain Anne’s affection at each other’s expense. Rachel Weisz, as Lady Sarah, and Emma Stone, as Abigail, the ingenue attempting to replace Sarah at Anne’s side, are clearly enjoying themselves. But Olivia Colman, whose extraordinary comic timing is once again on display, steals the show. She manages to portray Queen Anne as completely inept, and yet with a hint of pathos that enables the viewer to be moderately sympathetic towards her. The whole thing plays like a delirious parody of royalty, and combines the delightful nihilism of Lanthimos’ earlier The Lobster – also starring Weisz and Colman (and a better film than The Favourite) – with the lurid sensationalism of something like Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls. This is certainly the most engaging of the nominees, and receives my vote for Best Picture. Ari Mattes, The Conversation.

Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 12 January, 2019 | Now: 19 February, 2019