The Favourite Review

It ain’t always easy being the favourite.

I should know, as it’s painfully obvious to my siblings that I’m my family’s favoured child.

Well, not my dad’s – I’m far too much like him for his liking.

And not my mum’s either, I’m afraid her first born takes that crown – and not just for siring her first grandkid.

Come to think of it, this favourite status of mine is something of a self-proclaimed moniker.

Still, it’s always good for some sibling rivalry shaped laughs over the holidays, though I’m not sure we could hold a candle to Yorgos Lanthimos’ new film The Favourite.

For starters, we don’t have any duck races… though I am hoping to introduce these.

Abigail is a well to do type in 18th century England – at least she was right up until the moment her father decided he’d make a good speculator.

He didn’t.

Now she’s at the bottom of the well, and prey to scurrilous advances from all kinds of rapscallions and n’er-do-wells.

Luckily for Abi, she still has friends in high places; friends like her cousin Lady Sarah Marlborough, who’s consort to Queen Anne.

High places don’t get any higher than that… except maybe the pope, if you’re the religious sort.

Which I’m not.

Still, like any ambitious heroine, Abigail isn’t happy to simply be someone’s beck and call girl.

Unless she’s playing said call girl for the Queen.

Pretty soon, Abi’s plotting to do whatever’s necessary in order to become the Queen’s lady in waiting.

Only problem being said lady in question just so happens to be her dear cousin, Lady Sarah.

Will Abigail cast aside all loyalty and bonds of family in her venal pursuit of power, privilege and a royal prick or two?

What do you think.

The Favourite was one of the hits from last year’s London Film Festival, where Lanthimos’ twisted sense of humour has become something of a staple.

This time around the Greek auteur has turned his hand to period dramas by basing his latest film on three royal figures from Britain’s past, even if historical accuracy has been eschewed for creative licence.

The Favourite focuses on the supposed jealousies and insecurities of a royal love triangle between Abigail Masham, Lady Sarah Churchill and Queen Anne – played by Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman respectively.

At the heart of this hilarious film lies in the insane extravagances carried out allegedly in our interests by the gilded lives of our ruling elite.

Good thing such excesses have long since been consigned to the history pages, eh.

Not that this matters, as Lanthimos ruthlessly skewers the socially acceptable madness of our upper class with customary élan to produce probably his finest film to date.

Coupled with excellent performances from its three leading lights, it’s easy to see why The Favourite is one of the front runners as we approach awards season.

And unlike me, Yorgos hasn’t even had to make up his favourite status.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

January 2019