Aptly named for awards season, The Favourite concerns a power struggle between the ailing Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), the manipulative Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz) and new arrival Abigail (Emma Stone), a former Lady fallen to the rank of maid and keen to reclaim her position by any means necessary.
Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer) approaches the period drama with the distinctly warped perspective of the fisheye lens used to film the ugly, cavernous halls of Hatfield House, and the uglier machinations of its blotchy-faced inhabitants. Based on letters written by the 3 women, Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara’s script is a caustic, witty affair, riddled with pretend 18th-century swearing, timely political themes and rabbits, lobsters and ducks (oh my).
The venomous dialogue is matched by the performances, with Colman’s tragicomic brilliance, Stone’s English accent and Weisz’s cool delivery all jostling for position (and awards). Their political manoeuvring and mudslinging reap delicious comedy, angular and vulgar in the best possible way. It feels like the movie The Beguiled should have been, sporting a sense of cohesion and layers that aren’t peeled back so much as skinned alive. Make it a double-bill with Disobedience, that’s our adWeisz.