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Film Reviews

The Favourite Review

Written by Beth Sawdon

Yorgos Lanthimos has already made history this year with his incredible new film, The Favourite. The black comedy period film stars Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Nicholas Hoult. After soaring through this year’s awards season and bagging multiple honours such as ‘Best Actress’ for Olivia Colman, and ‘Outstanding British Film’, it is set to be one of the most successful films of 2019. Set in 18th Century England, The Favourite is loosely based on the stories of Queen Anne and her relationships with two cousins; Sarah Churchill and Abigail Masham. Working intimately with the Queen, Sarah and Abigail wind up vying to be court favourites, all the while Queen Anne is in poor health and Britain is at war with France. This is a light-hearted and fruitful comedy with a quintessentially British character.

Although enjoyable, The Favourite is not without its faults. What this film greatly possesses in some areas, it lacks in others. Where there is comedy, it lacks a strong plot. Where there are great performances, it is deficient in the script. The chemistry between the three lead females; Colman, Stone and Weisz was endearing and fun. In fact, when Olivia Colman accepted her award for ‘Best Actress’ at the 2019 BAFTAs next to her so-called ‘supporting actresses’, she insisted that she accept it for all three of them.

“This is not for the lead it’s for a lead, and as far as I’m concerned all three of us are the same and should be the lead... this is for all three of us.”

Olivia Colman at the BAFTAs, 2019

It is clear to see that a bond was created between the actresses off-screen which is beautifully manifested in the film.

The lead females are honourably supported by Nicholas Hoult who portrays Robert Harley, the leader of the opposition. It is obvious that Hoult’s character greatly influenced his interpretation of Harley, with Hoult’s natural wit and talent for comedy apparent from start to finish. The About a Boy actor shares an amusing scene with Emma Stone, whereby Hoult pushes Stone into a ditch, after threatening to blackmail her. The bluntness of this moment is so memorable and representative of the whole film. Again, the chemistry between the cast is strong and they each create an unforgettable experience when viewing The Favourite.

The cinematography within The Favourite is quirky yet solid. By offering a naturally dismal colour scheme throughout the film, cinematographer Robbie Ryan has smartly placed it into its chosen era. The use of natural lighting on the close-up and portrait shots of the cast added great detail to the characters and heightened the emotions of each scene. The Favourite proposes a suitable accompanying soundtrack of classical compositions, with Handel, Bach and Vivaldi serving as just a few examples of the contributing composers. The intensity of the chosen pieces of music provide The Favourite with a sharp, regal tone; particularly Viola d’amore Concerto by Vivaldi which was used in various trailers worldwide. Before the film was even released, this tone was eloquently demonstrated to various audiences, giving viewers a sense of what The Favourite would entail.

The Favourite is an iconic film and is clearly earnest work from Lanthimos and the cast. While it is set hundreds of years ago, the story and the comedy is so contemporary that it could be applied to any era, including today. The Favourite is an entertaining piece of work with Lanthimos’ traits of classic independent cinema.