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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'The Favourite': A Madcap 1800's-Era Depiction of the Unscrupulous Affairs of Queen Anne of England

Movie poster for The Favourite (2018)

The Favourite (2018) is a madcap yet strikingly adroit period film set in the newly sovereign state of Great Britain in the year 1711. While her nation wages a bloody overseas conflict with France, Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) suffers from declining health while sequestered to her residence in Hampton Court Palace.

The Queen shows fleeting interest in governing while instead immersing herself in duck racing and rabbit breeding—the nation's affairs overseen by confidante and lover Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz). When Sarah's cousin Abigail Hill (Emma Stone) arrives to serve as a palace maid, Anne becomes smitten with the young serf and appoints her personal attendant. The storyline sees Abigail insinuating herself into the Queen's favour while vying with Sarah for their majesty's affections—all the while plotting with opposition leader Robert Harley (Nicholas Hoult) to instate herself as a noble Baroness.

Written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara and directed by Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer), The Favourite is a wildly eccentric tale of 18th Century palace intrigue. Lanthimos lends his trademark brand of idiosyncrasy to this largely fictionalized depiction of Queen Anne's latter years of decline, enmeshed in a complex web of seduction and chicanery. Brimming with wit and fervor, it's a wildly sardonic take on the historical culmination of the Stuart dynasty.


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