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.
Far and away the best part of The Favourite is the characters. The three leading ladies are all phenomenal — Olivia Colman as Queen Anne, Emma Stone as Abigail Masham, and Rachel Weisz as Sarah Churchill. A combination of the terrific acting talent, and the writing of the characters, I was instantly roped in because of the people and stayed invested in the bonkers “true” story being told because of the people.
The Favourite is by no means as insane as the other Yorgo Lanthimos film I’ve seen, The Lobster, but for anyone even remotely assuming this will be an actual historical drama will be quite unsuspecting. I think what Lanthimos does is this side of amazing, but with some reservations, again getting back to characters.
My reservations seems to go with the craziness of the film, which only gets more bizarre as it goes along. When you start, you just dip your toes in the water, getting acquainted with all that is going on. Digesting it all brings with it a lot of enjoyment. Colman, Stone, and Weisz all play perfectly off each other and you are most preoccupied with seeing great chemistry between well-written characters. Once “the twist” (a.k.a. dramatic turning point) happens, you get taken away a bit from standard, traditional fare, and tossed into the deep end. I at least was able to tread water, but seeing how Emma Stone’s character changed wasn’t as enjoyable. It’s a bit too much, too fast, and likewise the changes Rachel Weisz’s character goes through also doesn’t seem to fit in all that well.
For acting and overall great characters, The Favourite is among the best of the year. I can easily see it sweeping the Actress categories — with both Stone and Weisz nominated for Supporting Actress, one should easily walk away with it (unless they end up splitting the vote) — but in all other aspects, this film didn’t strike my fancy.
3 out of 5