The Favourite – Movie Review – An idiosyncratic period drama.

The Favourite is set in 18th century England and follows a frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) as she occupies the throne, whilst her close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead. When a new servant named Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, her charm begins to create a battle of wits between herself and Lady Sarah, in order to capture Queen Anne’s attention.

The only Yorgos Lanthimos film I saw prior to this is The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and from my experience with that film I already knew that there would be more to this film, than you’d initially think simply based on the marketing and the premise. I can confirm I was correct with that assumption. This is an oddball period piece that has a very bizarre tone that makes it stand out. Unfortunately whilst I appreciate the attempt, the humour rarely worked for me. It failed to make me laugh on many occasions when it was clear that it was trying to. At times it felt too forced and unnatural with it’s approach to the comedy. The sections that did manage to grab a few chuckles out of me were the situational moments of humour, as opposed to the dialogue based humour.

The script does have some mildly intriguing ideas which are mainly due to the metaphorical aspects of the narrative, and what some of the characters represent. The ending will likely confuse audiences and leave them feeling a little unsatisfied but I liked it. The main problem I have with the story is I just found it a little dull at times. On more than one occasion I found myself getting a little bored.

Now that I’ve got the negatives out the way allow me to express what really did work. The performances were great. Particularly the three female leads portrayed by Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. It’s the dynamic between those performances that will hold your attention, as the characters slip in and out of conflict with one another. I thought the rest of the cast were serviceable, they weren’t massively important to the story and weren’t that memorable either.

Cinematographer Robbie Ryan might just be the true MVP of this entire film, because it’s simply beautiful to look at. The way he frames each shot and the manner in which the camera moves made it visually attractive to witness. The production department also had a major part to play in why it’s so aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Everything was done to a high standard, from the hair and make up, all the way to the sets, locations and costumes.

Overall The Favourite is a bit of a mixed bag, it’s a somewhat misfire that isn’t as good as it thinks it is, but still deserves some merit for it’s unique style, idiosyncratic performances and wonderful production design.

★ ★ ★

(3 Stars out of 5)

-T. Graham.

The Favourite – Starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Nicholas Hoult.

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos.

Now showing in cinemas.

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