The Favourite, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (The Killing of a Sacred Deer), is a humorous British historical drama set in the early 18th century. The plot focuses on the relationship between Queen Anne and her close friend, Lady Sarah Churchill, also known as the Duchess of Marlborough.
Olivia Coleman (the new Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown) portrays the unstable and disregarded Queen Anne, who was plagued with illness and tragedy. She spends most of her time raising rabbits in her beautifully decorated room full of lavish rugs, tapestries, and priceless antiques. The Queen relies on Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) to handle the affairs of the palace and matters of state, as the Queen has no interest in ruling the country.
Initially, Lady Sarah is clearly the Queen’s favourite. However, things begin to change when Lady Sarah’s impoverished cousin, Abigail (Emma Stone), arrives at the palace looking for work. Abigail’s family has fallen on hard times, as a result of her father’s gambling debts.
Feeling pity for her cousin, Lady Sarah employs Abigail as a chambermaid. Abigail harbors secret ambitions to reinstate her social status, even if she has to claw her way to the top. While Sarah focuses on the politics of war, Abigail sets her plan into motion by stepping in as the Queen’s new companion. When Lady Sarah senses Queen Anne’s growing attachment to Abigail, the two cousins find themselves in a battle competing to be the Queen’s ‘favourite’.
The Favourite is a story of rivalry, jealousy, and power. It is a true story, however, loosely based on real-life historical events, as Queen Anne’s private affairs mostly took place behind closed doors. The Favourite is not a traditional period movie, but rather a dark comedy. It gorgeously captures the grandeur of the period with rich architecture and stunning costumes.