The Favourite is a period comedy-drama directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone.
Loosely based on true events, Sarah Churchill (Weisz) is “The Favourite” to the useless Queen Anne, (Colman) she essentially rules the country in the name of the Queen, this routine is eventually broken by the arrival of her cousin Abigail Hill, (Stone) a woman who used to be of a high class but has fallen on hard times due to the actions of her father. Sensing an opportunity to rise back to the top of the hierarchy, Abigail sets out to befriend the Queen and topple Sarah. The Favourite is a comedic look at the behind-the-scenes politics that took place during this time.
The first thing that is apparent with this film, is that it is your standard “awards season” movie that is clearly looking to get a few nods. It’s a very quirky, arty film, which immediately is a warning for anyone who isn’t into that “stylistic” form of storytelling. The Favourite is very much a slow-burner and I do fear that many casual audiences will find this to be a rather dull affair. (When I saw it at the cinema, I heard many people expressing their dislike towards the film and commenting on how boring it is, which reaffirms my point.) As someone who personally enjoys all types of cinema, I quite enjoyed the direction of this film and I found it to be well paced, I wasn’t personally bored by it, but I can see why many were.
The driving force, and the biggest strength of this film by far, is the performance of the three leads. I don’t like to state the obvious, and I’m sure anyone who has got a vague knowledge of modern cinema will already know this, but Colman, Weisz and Stone all show exactly why they are up there with some of the finest actresses of this generation. I found all of their characters to be rather interesting and their chemistry was seamless, which made the jockeying and the tension between them all the more entertaining.
I also found this film to be incredibly funny, it’s not your standard comedy and the majority of the humour comes in form of the exemplary wit of the leads, I must give props to the screenplay, because I found myself laughing at almost everything that was intended to make me laugh and it is very cleverly written, which is a rare feat in comedy. Nothing really fell flat and the humour was consistent throughout, the film captures a perfect balance between serious and comedic, because there is a fair share of poignant, disturbing moments as well.
To conclude, I personally enjoyed The Favourite, but I don’t think it’s going to be one for the casual film-watcher. If you’re a fan of your “awards bait” movies, then I would definitely recommend giving this a try. But I can’t really recommend this to anyone else, I think many will find this to be rather slow and dull, regardless of the sometimes brilliant comedy on offer. I won’t be surprised if this film finds itself with a few nominations in the near future, in a multitude of departments.
I give The Favourite a 7/10.