Fairness is not a priority in love or war for Yorgos Lanthimos. ‘Favour is a breeze that shifts direction all the time’, we are told in the director’sfantastically incisive new film, The Favourite, a biting regal affair. Sadistic indifference has characterised Lanthimos’s body of work, from Dogtooth to The Lobster, and here, the way in which human emotion can poison even the most prestigious political institutions feels all the more enjoyable.
In the early 18th century, England is at war with the French and Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) has throbbing calves and emotional insecurity. It’s the historical truth of a monarch and the bitter rivalry between two cousins for the title of court favourite. The story was written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, making this the first script that Lanthimos has directed without writing himself.