Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos
Writers: Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
Starring: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult and Joe Alwyn
Run Time: 1h 59min
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama
5 Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
I recommend you drop everything and see this on the big screen immediately! There’s a reason why so many films come out toward the end of the year. Often that logic is based upon the fact that they’ve saved the best for the last. That would be the case here. ‘The Favourite’ is a significant contribution to the films of 2018. It even far surpassed my expectations in fact. It’s masterfully crafted and incredibly well written. The three lead actresses are exceptionally strong in this, the latest work from the skilled raconteur of ‘The Lobster’ and ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer,’ Yorgos Lanthimos.
‘The Favourite’ does have an altogether different spirit from either of his previous films. If you do have a strong opinion of his earlier work, you shouldn’t necessarily base your decision on whether or not to see this on your opinion of them. One reason to sit down and give this a watch that stands out above the others is that those films didn’t have this exceptional trio of women in their cast. These same actresses will now be giving the Academy a difficult choice over who to choose for an award and for which award. Not a bad pickle to be in but one they’ll be in to be sure.
The script by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara was more comical than I had expected it to be which was quite a pleasant surprise. Getting to know the women and fully coming to realize the rivalry between them for the favor of the Queen was as delicious as waiting for a steak to cook that had been marinating all day. The performances undeniably complement the script. That said, some accents can make it hard to understand exactly what they’re saying at times, but this doesn’t distract from your overall enjoyment of the film. You won’t miss the sharp intellect written into the dialogue and the keen wit it took to come up with the story in the first place.
The film is set in England, early in the 18th century. Olivia Colman plays ailing Queen Anne who finds more than just a friendship in Lady Sarah, played by Rachel Weisz. With the position she has put herself, Lady Sarah is essentially running the country. The Queen fully trusts her and makes no decision without her input. Enter young Abigail (Stone) who’s fallen on hard times. She hopes, since they are cousins, Lady Sarah will give her a position in the palace. Jealous of the beautiful young woman, yet enamored with her charms, Sarah gives her work and a place to stay and proceeds to get to know her. With more than kitchen work on her mind, Abigail uses her position with Sarah to get to know the Queen more. Soon, she finds herself in the catbird seat where she accidentally learns more about Sarah and Anne’s relationship than she had bargained for. Being in the right place at the right time, Abigail sees that they’re lovers, as well. She then decides to use this knowledge to her full advantage.
As Abigail moves her piece on the chessboard of life, Sarah starts to get suspicious. The music, politics, relationships, and discourse build from there. The story is impressively structured, and it’ll keep you riveted throughout, enough that I feel confident you’ll walk away possibly considering ‘The Favourite’ one of your favorites for 2018. The ending is pure Lanthimos. When Sarah questions Abigail about whether she thinks she has won, you’re eventually shown what winning would be if she does. A life of being at the queen’s beck and call to rub her ‘leg’ at a moments notice doesn’t sound fun. Is this the life she was looking forward to?