The Favourite

Playing a queen was surely The Favourite of Olivia Colman's roles
8/10 – A bonkers story brought to life by a fiercely quick-witted script and three phenomenal leading performances
Release Date: 
Tuesday, January 1, 2019
Written by: 

Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone inject hilarity and sex into a period drama like no other.


The Favourite has generated plenty of buzz since its acclaimed world premiere last August, leaving many keen to sample a film so full of talent.

Oscar-winners Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone share the screen with award-winning actress Olivia Colman in a career-defining feature for all three actresses.

The masterly script of Yorgos Lanthimos’ batty 18th-century comedy-drama brings the very best out of them, and throws everything we thought we knew about period pieces out the window.

Colman plays British monarch Queen Anne, a physically fragile and emotionally unpredictable ruler who shares a very close friendship with Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough (Weisz), an opportunist able to use their relationship to her advantage.

However, their bond is disrupted with the arrival of Sarah’s cousin Abigail (Stone) who was once a lady but has since fallen on hard times.

Though she’s initially stuck at the bottom of the food chain working in the palace kitchens, Abigail is more cunning than her gentle disposition would have you believe. Before long, she’s rising through the ranks and, to Sarah’s fury, manages to strike up her own friendship with Queen Anne, leading to an outrageous rivalry between the cousins as they compete to be crowned The Favourite.

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This is an outright hilarious piece of cinema that will have any audience keeling over with laughter from start to finish.

Tony McNamara and Deborah Davis’ screenplay is a work of art; fiercely quick-witted, full of attitude and hysterical one-liners that make The Favourite the most quotable film in years.

Though events take place amongst royalty, there is no decorum whatsoever. The script is packed with the foulest language imaginable and makes the experience all the funnier – especially when you hear pompous characters like Nicholas Hoult’s haughty politician Robert Harley using the c-word.

Chastity is also out of the question in this raunchy tale. Usually for business rather than pleasure, everyone in the palace is at it like rabbits.

Speaking of rabbits, quirks like Queen Anne’s collection of 17 bunnies add to the madness of this world – though we later find out her beloved pets have a very sad significance – and are taken to new heights thanks to Lanthimos’ disorientating camera work.

The acting is completely faultless. Hoult is wonderfully outlandish while supporting cast members Joe Alwyn, Mark Gatiss and James Smith do well in their respective roles too. As for Colman, Weisz and Stone, they’ve never been better.

Fans of Colman know she is top drawer when it comes to comedy and she has endless opportunity to make good of her razor-sharp comic timing in this movie.

However, she is just as good at portraying Queen Anne’s misery. She can barely walk on account of her painful gout and can’t even enjoy a slice of cake without throwing it back up. 

The close-up shots of Colman’s face as she slowly and subtly transforms from contentment to devastation are remarkable, and she is surely destined for awards success.

Weisz and Stone also shine individually, as well as together. The rapport between them means the scenes in which they can really bounce off each other – such as when Sarah and Abigail shoot pigeons together - are among the best in the film.

The only negative in The Favourite is that it feels like it drags a little in the second half. The film is divided into eight chapters, which perhaps is a couple of segments too long for the film to maintain its pace.

Nevertheless, this is an immensely enjoyable watch with mesmerising performances to boot and will certainly be the one to watch this awards season.

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