The Favourite – screening next Wednesday – is an eccentric, intriguing delight from beginning to end

The Favourite (15) – a review

Set in the court of Queen Anne, the last of the Stuart monarchs, Yorgos Lanthimos’s quirky, profane and shamelessly anachronistic period drama is an eccentric, intriguing delight from beginning to end.

Olivia Colman’s Oscar-winning performance is every bit as good as you’d expect, though Rachel Weisz is just as good, and is at the real heart of the movie, with a fascinating, flawless take on Lady Sarah Churchill’s manipulative ways. The Queen’s friend, lover and very possibly her saviour, she effectively runs the country, while the Queen nurses bunny rabbits and her courtiers race ducks. When Emma Stones’s Abigail is dropped into this heady mix, a fiery love triangle develops that has the audience’s sympathies bouncing around all over the place.

Robbie Ryan’s cinematography uses wide-angle lenses to present a dreamlike world of excess as we prowl around, catching characters in unexpected and compromising positions. Combined with a score from Anna Meredith, the partnership of Greenaway and Nyman on The Draftsman’s Contract repeatedly comes to mind. So much better than Lanthimos’s overrated The Lobster, The Favourite is packed with sharp dialogue, startling plot twists and genuine pathos. Colman certainly deserved her Oscar, it’s just a shame there weren’t a couple more to give out to the rest of the cast.

By David Vass