the_favouriteTwo period dramas in a week? Well, I guess so.

Following on fromĀ Mary Queen of Scots, this effort from Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, Dogtooth) is a far more entertaining affair. There’s a scattering of supporting characters and a decent wealth of talent, but essentially this is a three-hander. Olivia Colman plays Queen Anne, Rachel Weisz is Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, and Emma Stone is Abigail Hill, a cousin to the Duchess.

Sarah’s relationship with the Queen is an odd one. She’s an adviser and a confident and a secret lover and in a lot of ways, due to the Queen’s physical and mental health issues, she’s essentially pulling all the strings that run the country. Abigail arrives to court recently impoverished when her husband died in a fire and looking for a favor from her cousin. She’s sent to work in the scullery where she is mocked and bullied by the other servants. It isn’t long before she proves herself to Sarah and makes her way upstairs and then she discovers the special relationship between Sarah and the Queen and begins to plot her ascent back to nobility.

This is all against a backdrop of a war with the French that requires funding, which in turn requires an increase in land taxes that the common people are apt to revolt against. Sarah’s husband, Lord Marlborough (Mark Gatiss), is the strategic mastermind at the front, and so it comes as no surprise that Sarah backs the tax hike and she has the Queen’s ear, as well as other parts of her body, so the Opposition party try their best to use Abigail against these plans. Abigail, though, has plans of her own.

For a movie with so many twists and turns, deals and double-crosses, and where our own allegiances to these characters is fleeting, it’s remarkably easy to keep up with everything that’s going on, which is of course down to the performances, but also a sharp, crisp, and witty script from Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara. The excesses of the time are stark as ducks and lobster are literally raced around rooms, the Queen gets lost in her own house, a naked man is pelted with fruit for no apparent reason other than why not. All the while, a war is being fought.

The Favourite is the kind of movie that tends to do well come Awards Season, and I’d be amazed if it doesn’t pick up a few nominations and prizes. The set design and costumes are exquisite, but the real issue is going to be who gets Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress, as we’re going to have to perm two out of three and I found it really difficult to separate Colman, Stone, and Weisz. I’ve always had a soft spot for Olivia Colman, but in all honesty, it could go either way. My only complaint is the font they use in the titles made my eyes sore. Oh, and the guy in front of us laughed two seconds too late at each gag. That’s all I’ve got.

A triumph.