FILM REVIEW: The Favourite starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz & Emma Stone


WHEN?: Released UK-wide 01/01/19

It’s been an extraordinary year for Oscar-worthy Best Actress performances with Lady Gaga and Glenn Close leading the field – now joined by Olivia Colman who plays Queen Anne here.

  • Read on for reasons including why Joe Alwyn is a name to look for in the future

Regular monstagigz readers may be more familiar with Colman in her TV roles including Fleabag, The Night ManagerBroadchurch and the 6-part Les Miserables which starts on BBC1 from 9pm tomorrow.

However, director Yorgos Lanthimos was also behind the lens for her memorable celluloid turn in The Lobster as a hotel manager where single people are given 45 days to find a partner or be turned into animals.

It was, perhaps surprisingly, intriguing and Lanthimos crafts something notable here with similarly seemingly unflattering material: it’s 1708, Britain is at war with France and Queen Anne is struggling with gout, mourning the loss of her children and under the spell of the Duchess of Marlborough (an electric Rachel Weisz) when her cousin Abigail (Emma Stone, always watchable) comes between them.

Colman is a delight here as a monstrous monarch who can switch from stubborn unreasonableness to childlike enthusiasm at the prospect of lobster racing or rabbit petting.

You know you’re in safe hands with the script early on when a servant notes that the people are literally shitting on the streets as ‘political commentary’ and the use of the adjective ‘c**tstruck’ later typifies the playful use of language more familiar now perhaps than at that time.

The supporting cast is strong: Nicholas Hoult has a lot of fun as dastardly scheming leader of the opposition Robert Harley, Mark Gatiss is always good value and Taylor Swift squeeze Joe Alwyn brings a believable physicality to a role which would be leading man if this unusual film trod a more traditional path.

If we had a problem with it, it would be that while this is an interesting character study it doesn’t scream with any urgency as a tale that just has to be told. In fact the 1st draft of the film was written in 1998 and that it has taken quite so long to come to the screen perhaps gives a sense of how quirky all of this is.

What is very now is that it’s a story with 3 strong female characters and as such there’s clearly an audience for this type of material.

In a year when Colman will go on to star as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown for Netflix and Saoirse Ronan is expected to usher herself into the Oscar race for her leading role in Mary Queen Of Scots (out in the UK 18/1/19), the regal competition might render The Favourite incapable of quite living up to its titular promise.

  • Picture by via Facebook courtesy The Favourite. Tickets
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