A new twist to the historical genre of filmmaking is provided by Yorgos (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer) Lanthimos in his third English language film in four years, The Favourite.
It’s the early 18th century, England is at war with France and Queen Anne’s ( a superlative Olivia Colman) poor health causes her to rely on her doting friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz). When Sarah’s cousin Abigail (Emma Stone) comes to the palace, her charm soon wins the Queen’s attentions and the shrewd girl sees a way to restore her social status, lost through her father’s disastrous wagers.
With stakes of the heart high, the two women soon become rivals for the Queen’s affections in a wickedly amusing game of one-up-womanship. This is a riotous, tongue-in-cheek drama that revels in the wit of royal court life, but which is weakened by some stilted, clunky dialogue that seems at odds with the realism of the story. However, Fiona Crombie’s opulent sets offer a spectacular canvas for much ribald jocularity, while Sandy Powell boldly updates court classics and the trio of female leads – Colman, Stone and Weisz – provide a constant delight.
The Favourite – Monday at 9.00pm on FilmFour.