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Film Review: The Favourite (2019)

The Favourite (2019) is a historical comedy-drama that tells the story of Queen Anne back in the early 18th-century. This quirky period film is directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, who has directed other unique films such as The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Featuring a strong female cast of Olivia Colma, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, this story focuses on Sarah Churchill and Abigail Hill as they fight to be Queen Anne’s favourite.

The Favourite (2019) – source: Fox Searchlight

This is definitely a unique film, as with all of Lanthimos’ feature films. This may be the one that is easiest for the general audience to enjoy, but the editing style and the screenwriting are still so jarring. It is also incredibly rare to see such a piece of history be told in a rather comedic way, and in a sense it makes learning about the history of the British monarchy easier. Instead of boring the audience with the battles and the issues of Queen Anne and her long list of illnesses, they instead present a story that still contains those rivalries and struggles but in a lighter tone. 

The screenwriting and the editing go hand in hand in this film, and are brilliantly done. The humour is right in your face, but is absolutely spot on and very clever. When there are dramatic moments, they hit harder as we get to see into the lives of the characters and know exactly what is going on in their heads. The characters are also realised to have pros and cons, and you end up not knowing which of the two girls you want to see come out as the favourite. From the three main characters down to the side characters, everyone here is well fleshed out and characterised, full with personality, motives and flaws.
These characters also come alive due to the incredible performances given by the entire cast. It is no wonder that all three of the main characters are up for Oscar contention, because they all do an incredible job. It would not shock me if Olivia Colman gets a win for Best Actress, because she gives a heartbreaking performance in this film. She is the character you want to see succeed and be happy, and you feel her emotion when something doesn’t go her way. Weisz and Stone give equally good performances here as well, and you truly believe the quirky and off-settling relationship that they have in this film.

The Favourite (2019) – source: Fox Searchlight

One actor who shocked me in this film is Nicholas Hoult, who plays Robert Harley. I have seen Hoult in much more commercial roles such as Beast in X-Men: First Class, but never in such a movie like this. He gives a powerful and convincing performance here, and completely draws your attention whenever he appears on the screen. I didn’t even realise that Hoult was in the role until I started watching reviews of this film and other people pointed him out.
Whilst I will not give away any spoilers, the ending was a little jarring to begin with. When the credits started rolling, I was not sure what to make of the end sequence. It seemed to feel off and almost as if it was not the end of the entire story. However, Lanthimos had given enough clues throughout the film to let the audience figure out what all of the symbolisms meant, as well as let the audience go away and research into the real story of Queen Anne. This gave the ending more power, as well as letting the story and characterisation sink in, and after thinking about the ending for a solid hour after the movie had finished, I truly realised the true brilliance of the ending.
What makes this film unique is that this film focuses on a specific time in history, a time where there was war going on between countries. However, it does not focus on the war or the time itself. This film can feel timeless as it focuses on a rivalry between two people to be a superior’s favourite. We know that there are huge consequence as we hear the politicians and leaders at the time argue about the status of war, but it does not focus on that. We get a big scale of the importance of power, but presented in a manner that we only care about one person. This is a bold move, but it works brilliantly.
The Favourite (2019) – source: Fox Searchlight

This is definitely not a movie for everyone. There will be people that hate the style and humour of the film, or find the subject matter rude and disrespectful. However, if you are into films that are a bit different and bonkers, you will fall in love with this film. This film is presented in a different way, but was thoroughly entertaining throughout and if you are in need for a bit of dark humour, this may be a good choice for you.


Have you seen The Favourite yet? What did you make of it, and what was or will be your first cinema viewing of 2019? Let me know in the comments below and let’s have a conversation.

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