The Favourite

The Favourite

Film Netflix
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The Favourite is set in early 18th-century England, when the sudden arrival of the Queen's cousin, throws the status quo at the court into chaos. Remarkable film from director Yorgos Lanthimos.

The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos has stated that historical accuracy was of little importance to his bawdy period black comedy movie.

Audiences certainly didn’t flock to the film to relive the era of 18th century British Stuart rule.

Instead, a triumvirate of superb performances from Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz lock in a mischievous movie where perception of power is queen.

What Is The Favourite About?

Queen Anne (Colman) is struggling with rule. Bouts of painful gout leave her unable to walk, and the war with France requires her to make decisions she is unwilling to make.

She relies on strong-willed Lady Sarah Churchill (Weisz) to attend to matters of state, and soothe both her physical ailments and sexual desires.

This strong union is under threat. On the one hand is parliamentary Leader of the Opposition (Nicholas Hoult) who undermines Lady Sarah’s desire to double land tax for the war effort.

On the other is Lady Sarah’s recently impoverished cousin, Abigail (Emma Stone, Birdman) who Lady Sarah employed as a scullery maid out of sympathy.

Yet Abigail is cunning, and quickly manages to work her way into the Queen’s good graces.

Through a combination of not too frequently used distorted lenses, baroque score, and gleefully OTT costume design, The Favourite quickly establishes a self-contained world.

Almost all scenes take place within the palace; despite constant references to the war or to British subjects, Lanthimos keeps his cause and effect purely focused on the internal world of royal Machiavellian manoeuvrings.

The Favourite Official Trailer

Is The Favourite Worth Watching?

Each of the central trio are at turns sympathetic or derisory. In any other movie Colman would stand out with her pitch perfect portrayal of a childish and selfish woman tainted with genuine misery – her pained description of 17 children who were with her ‘only briefly’ delivered with sad gravitas.

Yet Weisz and Stone both rise to the challenge, both struggling for their own security at the hands of a mercurial power who could damn them as quick as deify.

Weisz, as the incumbent, is skilled and crafty. Her moments of genuine affection for the Queen tempered with the knowledge that her temperamental ward needs tough love to function.

That  Stone’s obsequious approach quickly steals the Queen’s eye unbalances her. More so once Abigail’s previous weakness solidifies into strength.

It's hard to get a look in when the core trio are on top form, but Hoult’s foppish performance makes for an excellent counterpoint.

He swaggers with the full confidence that a man with power will win out 9 times out of 10; pantomime sneers of arrogance are just the icing on top.

The Favourite is a power play of the best kind: where it is incredibly important to the participants, but we the audience can revel in the farce of it all.

The cruel ruthlessness is delightfully wicked, with just enough humanity sprinkled throughout that any repercussions are felt like sores on a leg, to be soothed.

There is no need for spectators to play favourites. Come watch the rabbits in their cage.

Words by Mike Record


  • Outstanding Central Performances
  • Absorbing Costume, Music, And Cinematography
  • Delicious Black Comedy


  • Limited Sets
  • Contemporary (bad) Language Can Be Jarring


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