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The Favourite film review

The favourite
Written by Christian Butler

Find out why The Favourite is one of the favourites to win Best Picture at the Oscars.

Yorgos Lanthimos has directed this unique period comedy-drama. With wonderful performances from Olivia Colman and Emma Stone, The Favourite is a major contender at this year’s Oscars.

Who is Yorgos Lanthimos?

He’s the Greek filmmaker perhaps best known for 2015’s The Lobster. He got his start making arthouse movies in Greece such as Dogtooth and Kinetta. He is known for his eccentric, deadpan style. While still offbeat, The Favourite is his most mainstream movie yet.

What is the movie’s plot?

The film is set in 1708 during the reign of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman). Her adviser Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) influences the Queen in her decisions ruling the country. She is secretly her lover. Sarah’s power is disrupted by the arrival of her young cousin Abigail Masham (Emma Stone), who has fallen on hard times. As Abigail works her way up through the court, her and Sarah enter an intense conflict to become ‘the favourite’ of the Queen. Matters are complicated as the Queen must decide how to act in the war against France. Statesman Robert Harley (Nicholas Hoult) believes he can use Abigail to manipulate the Queen.

The verdict?

Lanthimos has made his most accessible film yet. With a very loose interpretation of historical events, he makes the intrigues of the course oddly funny. The film brings its era to life with bizarre, offbeat comedy. The style contrasts decadent costumes and settings with crass humour and swearing. As for the performances, Olivia Colman is especially impressive, combining an empathetic portrayal of the Queen’s illness with her infantile, petty behaviour. Stone and Weisz, meanwhile, excel as the squabbling cousins. While many period films lauded by the Oscars can be dull and tedious, The Favourite is both weirdly funny and strangely mesmerising.

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