It’s early 18th Century England. Queen Anne is on the throne. Her close advisor, Lady Marlborough, has a strong sway over her decisions (particularly because Anne has little interest in governing). A newcomer to the royal court, Abigail Masham, begins to rival Marlborough for influence. Conflict ensues.
‘The Favourite’ checks a lot of boxes that one typically has for a good drama: it’s a period piece, a costume drama, and has political intrigue to it. But before you assume that it’s “Oscar paint-by-numbers”, there’s much more to it than that. It’s not simply an informative piece about Queen Anne. It’s a complex tale of a rivalry and the lengths to which people will go to advance.
Although the film is stylishly directed, what most will take away is the performances of the three leads: Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Olivia Colman. Weisz and Stone are both impressive as women struggling for the upper hand against the other, but Colman steals the show as Queen Anne. She’s clearly in over her head as sovereign, but she still clearly wants to project strength. She’s very insecure but at times knows her strengths. It’s a very well written, complex character, and Colman nails every bit of it.+4