It’s safe to say director Yorgos Lanthimos has been pretty hit or miss for me, The Lobster leaving me bored stiff but The Killing of a Sacred Deer leaving me in a trance like state. Both were pretty out-there so I went into The Favourite expecting more of the same and, with Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone as the leads of the film, it’s hard not to get a little excited for.
Early 18th century England and a frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) sits on the throne. Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), who runs things in the background, vies for her attention with newcomer Abigail (Emma Stone), in a battle of wits that escalates to the point of no return.
It’s an absolute pleasure to watch a trio like Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone bounce off one another in The Favourite, each of them devilishly good in their respective roles. Weisz and Stone in particular revel in their character’s battle for the attention of Colman’s royal figure. Out of the three, I found myself enjoying Weisz’s performance the most however, the beauty of a film like this with as strong performances as these, is that that could easily change with every viewing.
There’s some solid support on show in The Favourite as well, Nicholas Hoult’s rather pompous Robert Harley proving to be a real snake in the grass if ever I’ve seen one. Hoult has always been an exciting young talent and working in a film like this will do no harm to his reputation.
Yorgos Lanthimos has ventured in comedy before with The Lobster, with incredibly mixed results that had me very sceptical about this film. What I can say is that, while a few of the jokes went right over my head, there is a lot to enjoy in the screenplay from Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, the wit and venom firing at rapid rates throughout.
With a strong screenplay and a string of fine performances on show, The Favourite is quite an intriguingly fun way to start 2019 at the cinema.