The Favourite (2018)

Though I haven't seen all of his non-English language films, I really liked all of Yorgos Lanthimos movies I've seen so far, especially The Lobster, one of the most striking films I've seen —it's been more than two years since I watched it and I still find myself thinking about it quite often. The Favourite stars one of my favourite actresses, Emma Stone, and an actress I really like, Rachel Weisz, so saying that I was excited about it is a bit of an understatement. 

Set in early 18th century England, the story follows Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), who occupies the throne, and her close friend, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), who actually rules the country through her influence on the Queen. Soon Sarah's younger cousin, Abigail Hill (Emma Stone), starts working as a servant and quickly makes her way into the Queen's favour as she sees a chance to return to her aristocratic roots. 

I don't know whether Lanthimos's film is historically accurate or not as I know nothing about Queen Anne —nor about most of England's history— but overall the story is quite interesting and captivating. There are moments though when the story feels dragged as the act goes on too long —the story is divided into eight acts— and the title chapters, while building anticipation for what's coming next, they also kind of ruin the surprise. Hence, I was not able to fully appreciate, enjoy the story, and I really felt the running time. 

Thankfully, The Favourite relies quite a lot on its characters and that's easily its greatest strength. Queen Anne is the most fascinating one as she is intimidating and insecure at the same time. Unpredictable, childish, needy, stubborn, manipulative but also lustful, loving, and witty. She's also physically impaired and often played with, but I never found her pathetic; on the contrary, she is very sympathetic. Most of the credits for it arguably go to Olivia Colman who gives a stunning performance. She switches expressions during close-ups in such a subtle way, she handles the humour very well and she truly conveys the Queen's sadness and melancholy. 

The two supporting characters, Sarah and Abigail, aren't as interesting but Weisz and Stone give such great performances, these two women also end up being compelling —Weisz's dialogue delivery is impeccable, and Stone portrays Abigail's wide range of emotions very well and is believable both as the sweet, and naive and the brutal girl. Also, they have a beautiful chemistry. 

Fox Searchlight Pictures
Robbie Ryan's cinematography is truly outstanding, with its gorgeous shots and camera angles aiming to increase the film's comic side. The unique score is quite effective. Costumes and set designs look beautiful. 

Ultimately, The Favourite is Lanthimos's most accessible film as he still makes a social commentary —regarding gender roles and sexuality— but its tones are definitely lighter than his previous works, which I guess is the reason it didn't fully work for me as I found the humour to be often ineffective, and while the performances were great, the film wasn't always compelling —I was quite bored, to be honest. 


  1. Oh no...bored! That is the worst but I still want to see this. I looked up the story and it is based on fact with Rachel’s role based on a direct ancestor of Churchill and Emma’s is based on a direct ancestor if Lady Diana Spencer.wild eh?

    1. I knew it was based on fact but I had no idea Churchill and Lady D were connected with this!

  2. I, too, was expecting it to be funnier, but it wasn't (the trailer scenes that seemed hilarious didn't deliver the same punch in the actual movie). Lanthimos's style is not my perfect cup of tea, but I am curious to see The Lobster, which one of best friends loves. Great review!

    1. You absolutely need to watch The Lobster. It's one of the few movies that I keep thinking about. I truly spoke to me.