The Killing of a Sacred Deer director Yorgos Lanthimos returns with his most conventional film yet, a fact-based period piece set in early 18th century England.

An ailing Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) sits on the throne with Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), her closest friend and ally, at her side. When Sarah's cousin Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, she takes her under her wing. With the Queen unable to deal with political matters due to health, Sarah takes her place and Abigail soon becomes the Queen's new favourite.

A bawdy and filthy delight, The Favourite was one of my personal highlights of this year’s London festival. With a very funny, expletive laden script, the first not co-written by Lanthimos since his 2001 debut, and with appropriately grubby set dressing, this is not your usual regal period piece.

An impressive cast helps bring it to life, with Olivia Colman on career best form as the Queen. Her petulant, tantrum throwing on a level with Miranda Richardson's Queenie, just with added gout. Though Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone as Sarah and Abigail more than hold their own against her. Stone in particular offering up a charming mix of feigned innocence and Machiavellian intent as she works her way up through the royal court. Excellent support comes from Nicholas Hoult and The Thick of It's James Smith as rival politicians, Hoult in particular delivering the various expletives with relish, while Mark Gatiss delivers a brief but effective turn as Lord Marlborough, Sarah's husband.

With Lanthimos putting aside his trademark deadpan surrealism, this may disappoint hardcore fans of his work, but should prove entertaining enough for everyone else.

A wonderful film.

By Kevin Knapman

The Favourite (15)


Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn, James Smith, Mark Gatiss, Jenny Rainsford

UK Release: Tuesday 1st January 2019

The Favourite - A Matter Of Perspective Featurette

The Favourite - "Look At Me" Clip

The Favourite - "Hot Chocolate" Clip

The Favourite - "Shooting" Clip