ON SCREEN · FILM
This rollicking tale of royal intrigue pits Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone against each other in crazy Queen Anne’s court.
“The Favourite is a pleasure to watch. It’s weird without being alienating, dirty without being cheap. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a better acting trio this fall. What fun The Favourite is, while still striking a few resonantly melancholy chords here and there.” —Vanity Fair
Oscar-nominated Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, The Lobster) makes his first foray into lush historical drama, but the offbeat auteur’s take on a normally staid genre is anything but genteel. In 18th-century England, the tragicomic Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) is depressed, crippled by gout and more interested in doting on her seventeen rabbits than attending to matters of state. For that she turns to close confidante Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz), who parlays her influence over Anne into unprecedented political clout. But power dynamics begin to shift when destitute but savvy newcomer Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives on the scene and quickly climbs the ranks from scullery maid to the queen’s preferred lady-in-waiting.
What follows is a deliciously nasty series of seductions, power plays and brutal takedowns, as Sarah and Abigail savagely jockey for power. While The Favourite might be a racier, more irreverent and more profanity-laden period drama than most, it’s also a remarkable triumph of period detail that completely immerses the audience in the overripe opulence of the royal court. And, as the dysfunctional trio at the film’s center, Colman, Weisz and Stone all deliver career-best performances.
D: Yorgos Lanthimos, UK, 2018, 2h