Class Act: A Review of The Favourite
In the past few years, Yorgos Lanthimos has made a name for himself as an auteur. His films dwell in the realm of the absurd, layering distinct and matter-of-fact dialogue over ridiculous scenarios. The Lobster, Lanthimos’ first English language film, parodied modern romance by imagining a world where single people are transformed into animals if they are unable to find a partner. His follow-up, 2017’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer, is a terse thriller in which a father’s regrets threaten his family with illness and death. To say Lanthimos’ work is weird would be to put it lightly. With The Favourite, Lanthimos steps away from the outright absurdity of his previous films in favor of a historical drama while maintaining his sharp and distinct directing style.
The Favourite is a deeply personal and darkly funny period piece centered around Queen Anne of England. Anne, expertly played by Olivia Colman, is in failing health and in the midst of The War of the Spanish Succession. Her lifelong friend and advisor Lady Sarah, played with bitingly cold grace by Rachel Weisz, is ever loyal to the Queen, if not constantly preoccupied with running the country. Emma Stone takes the third lead as Abigail, a peasant girl fallen from ladyship and desperate to find a place within the Queen’s favor.