Zach Gilbert’s review published on Letterboxd:
I’m admittedly not a huge fan of period films, but if we can get more like this, I could see myself coming around to the genre.
Seriously, bravo to everyone involved. Yorgos directs the hell out of this thing, and his penchant for fish eye perspectives makes it seem as if the audience themselves are peeking in to the secretive, deceptive lives of these enigmatic protagonists; I love how effectively it portrayed this.
The screenplay is witty and wry beyond belief. Dark, sardonic, biting - full of barbs and insults that leave quite the stinging impact (when you’re not dying from laughter). You constantly shift allegiances with which character you’re rooting for in each scene, and all three protagonists are allowed shades of moral grayness to provide them with further dimension. In addition, as the three leads struggle for power, you’re constantly left wondering who will come out on top until the very final frame - but you’re engaged all the way.
However, the multidimensional, sardonic script would be nothing without apt performers to deliver the material, and luckily for Yorgos and co., Weisz, Colman, and Stone deliver in spades. Weisz’s Sarah Churchill is steely and stone cold with just enough shades of sympathy to hint at a deeper heart beneath her rock hard exterior. Colman effortlessly toes the line of insecurity and ruthlessness as she comes into her own as Queen Anne. Yet, in my opinion, it is Stone who shines the most as the meek, unassuming Abigail Hill who soon shifts into a manipulative, power-hungry viper and proves to be quite the expert in deception and manipulation.
While I was a huge fan of the power/love triangle dynamic, I did care less for more “typical” aspects of the period genre (the constant political strife and endless discussions of war proceedings). And the film does admittedly run a tad too long, ambling on a bit before landing a suitably effective final blow in its conclusion. Nevertheless, these minor critiques weren’t significant enough to diminish the relentless fun I had experiencing the endless duels between Ma. Churchill and Ms. Hill. In addition, the third act heads into some effective thematically material I did not anticipate, and I found myself very taken with the emotional impact of these scenes.
All-in-all, The Favourite is a delectable slice of female-centric dark comedy, complete with a winning screenplay and dynamic, engaging, complicated protagonists. Yorgos’s style may not be for everyone, but this is certainly his most approachable piece of work yet. Dreadfully dark and despicably delightful, it’s expertly balances tragedy with comedy to deliver one of the most unique stories of the year.