Dying for a wickedly sharp black comedy about powerful female friendships, wrapped up in a British history lesson? You'll probably want to check out The Favourite trailer, which shows Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz serving up zingers in 18th century Britain, amid the chaos of Queen Anne's reign and the war that characterized most of it. The new trailer, released Tuesday, Sept. 4, sees both Stone and Weisz in rare (and comedically rich) form.
"Dearest Queen, you are mad," Weisz's character, Lady Sarah, begins, opening the new trailer. She's talking to Queen Anne (played by The Crown's Olivia Colman) the sickly monarch to whom Sarah serves as a close companion and periodic stand-in when it comes to political matters. Their relationship in the film is loosely based on a real one between Queen Anne and Sarah Churchill way back in the day, which sounds like it might not have been super healthy.
The toxicity that might exist beneath the surface of the women's bizarre friendship becomes clearer as the trailer progresses, but at its start, the two interact like pals. So, why does Sarah think the Queen is "mad," exactly? To a certain extent, the trailer leaves specifics up to the imagination on this front. But it seems like Queen Anne might've just gifted Sarah a palace. (Or an enormous, and impeccably detailed, model of a palace, at least.)
Sarah halfheartedly protests the gift, though her taught smile suggest she's not too upset about it. Still — "It is a monstrous extravagance," she tells the Queen. (Advising the monarch is Sarah's job, after all, even if sort of unofficially.) And why is that? As Sarah reminds Queen Anne, "We are at war."
As the new trailer's YouTube description notes in broad strokes, The Favourite takes place during the real-life Queen Anne's reign, which coincided with wartimes between England and France during the early 18th century. And while the historical events from which this film draws inspiration were probably anything but silly or comedic, The Favourite manages to put a truly hysterical twist on what feels like a particularly convoluted sliver of British royal history. Think: The Royals, but in black comedy format.
Stone's character, Abigail, pops up a little after the trailer's 30-second mark. In this case, "pops up" actually means she's ejected from a horse-drawn carriage and falls face-down onto an unkempt patch of grass near the outskirts of the palace lawn.
Abigail wants a job. "I apologize for my appearance," she tells Lady Sarah upon arrival, her face quite literally streaked with mud. But Abigail doesn't let appearances get in her way. "I hope I might be employed here," she continues, "By you. As something." Lady Sarah cracks a half-smile. "A monster for the children to play with, perhaps," she quips.
Abigail, for her part, catches on immediately. "Arrgh!" she growls, hands raised above her head.
Turns out, Abigail ends up taking on a bit of a larger role among palace personnel than Sarah might've originally expected. As the trailer unfolds, Abigail grows closer and closer to Queen Anne. And it's definitely too close for Sarah's comfort. The complicated friendship triangle (which seems to pretty obviously double as a competition for power) only gets more complicated as the trailer progresses: Sarah nails Abigail with a library book, Abigail shoots a pigeon, Queen Anne lies down on the floor in her nightgown and wails. There's quite a bit of wailing, actually, and not only from the likes of the Queen.
Of course, in addition to all the tears (which, judging by the trailer, will probably end up serving and ultimately comedic purpose, too), The Favourite's new trailer also touts some pretty searing comebacks from the likes of both Stone and Weisz's characters. And just for the record, those are pretty funny too.
"My dear friend," says Abigail toward the trailer's end, addressing a notably disheveled-looking Lady Sarah from across the room. In a move that mirrors the women's first meeting with delightful irony, Abigail now appears to be the Queen's newly polished right-hand. With her shoulders held high, Abigail continues. "How good to see you've returned from—"
Lady Sarah, standing opposite her friend against the floor-to-ceiling bay windows of Queen Anne's lavish bedroom, cuts her off. "Hell," she says. And then, without missing a beat: "I'm sure you shall pass through it one day." To that, Queen Anne only nods, though perhaps a little too emphatically. And Abigail? She looks Sarah square in the face and scoffs. Loudly.
Their snippy exchange hardly lasts a couple of seconds, but the back-and-forth still feels pretty emblematic of the trailer's exceedingly smart, tongue-in-cheek tone in general. Hopefully, that also means its indicative of what viewers might expect from The Favourite when it hits theaters November 23. Given the exceptionally sardonic track records of Stone, Weisz, and Colman — not to mention their respectively top-notch acting chops — that certainly seems like a seriously likely possibility. Which is mostly to say, when it comes to the film's leading trio of comedically-inclined women, it's pretty much impossible to pick a favorite.