The Favourite (2018). Acidic period satire starring Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman

image film favourite weisz colman
Standard

Film review by Jason Day of The Favourite, director Yorgos Lanthimos’ tart period satire starring Olivia Colman as Queen Anne and Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz as her two court confidantes battling for favour. 

Comedy

Image of 5 stars for an excellent film genius a classic movie

 

 

To like this post, comment on it or follow this blog, please scroll to the bottom. Use the search function on the left of the screen to look for other reviews and updates.

Synopsis

New to the royal court, Abigail (Emma Stone) is a former noblewoman who has fallen on hard times. Desperate for advancement, she beseeches her cousin Sarah, Lady Marlborough (Rachel Weisz) to give her a position. First assigned to the kitchens as a scullery maid, she proves useful when comforting the monarch and relieving the pain of her gout. She soon rises but Abigail wants more than just a lowly post – she wants to be the favourite like Sarah and have the Queen, and consequently the keys to power in Britain, to herself.

Review, by @Reelreviewer

image film poster the favourite

British history was never going to be a dull and straightforward in the hands of that most individual of storytellers, Yorgos Lanthimos, whose penchant for the absurd had it’s last outing in 2015 (The Lobster).

Apparently this story is based on real events.

The historical rumour is Queen Anne (1665 – 1714) was in a lesbian relationship with her favourite Sarah Churchill, Lady Marlborough.

The contention in this film version, about their later years together, is not only was that true, not only did they two of them have a vigorous and very enjoyable sex life, but they were also in a love triangle with another woman.

That they kept the details of this on a lowdown in royal courts, known for their gossip and lack of privacy, is a miracle.

Right from the start, we know what prism he will let us see the action – apparently based on actual events – as he uses the first of many ‘fish-eye’ lenses as Stone’s coach rattles through the woods. She has no idea what topsy-turvy world she is rushing towards, but this initial cock-eyed view gives a strong indication.

Clearly levels of cleanliness, space and comfort of national transport have not significantly improved between the early 18th century’s and the present day as Stone is squeezed in between an mostly assortment of folk – one man is happily masturbating and everyone pretends not to notice.

Right from the start, we know what prism Lanthimos will let us see the action as he uses the first of many ‘fish-eye’ lenses as Stone’s coach rattles through the woods. She has no idea what topsy-turvy world she is rushing towards, but this initial cock-eyed view gives a strong indication.

image film the favourite olivia colman mirror

Mirror, mirror in your hand, how much more courtly intriguing can you stand? Olivia Colman checks her ‘badger’ face in The Favourite (2018). Image: 20th Century Fox.

Clearly levels of cleanliness, space and comfort of national transport have not significantly improved between the early 18th century’s and the present day as Stone is squeezed in between an mostly assortment of folk – one man is happily masturbating and everyone pretends not to notice.

Lanthimos uses the breaks between the silly fun and games like duck races, naked men being pelted with tomatoes (intercut with shots of Weisz succumbing to a poisoned cup of tea) and a beguiling, bizarre vogue dance with acrobatics) to focus on the very touching love story. We see their sometimes cute and teasing, often violent and nasty marital fights, their nicknames for each other Mrs Morley (Anne) and Mrs Freeman (Sarah), the trouble-making with Abigail and others who want to be top dog.

image film favourite weisz colman

Mrs Freeman and Mrs Morley…but hardly happy ever after. Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in The Favourite (2018). Image: 20th Century Fox.

Anne is portrayed in a highly sensitive light, forever stricken with flare-ups of gout and other physical ailments. She is also shockingly lacking in confidence, had serious bouts of depression and is dominated by those closest to her.

Colman, some of whose past performances have not so much lent toward mannerism – as fussy, or nervous, middle-aged, middle-class women – as lent on and squashed it. For once she has found a really great part that allows her to be all of these things and more – she fidgets and murmurs and jibbers but then roars with determination and assertion when her wits don’t fail her.

image film the favourite olivia colman parliament

Politics is an ugly place. Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) goes to parliament in The Favourite (2018). Image: 20th Century Fox.

It’s difficult to judge who is the better bitch out of Weisz and Stone, but perhaps Weisz nudges it slightly with the physical stuff and a wonderfully humourless tone to everything she says. Suffice to say all three leads are pitch and poise perfect.

The male actors aren’t neglected either: Nicholas Hoult and Joe Alwyn prove they are equal to the task of the women in terms of nastiness and underhandedness.

Misery and pain are represented by many things and people in the film, but the most heartbreaking is the Queen’s menagerie of rabbits. 17 in fact and each represents one of her dead children – in real life, she had many miscarriages and still births. The ending, with Anne and Abigail’s faces superimposed against a multitude of rabbits frolicking about, both women in argues as Anne’s illnesses and fragile mental state look set to continue and Abigail seems set for a life of sexual servitude. Misery begets misery and etc.

Credit, too, to the camera team for bringing to glowing, orange and black reality scenes lit by candlelight – tricky, but it looks very accomplished here and adds extra depth to the proceedings.

Find out more about The Favourite on the official website.

Cast & credits

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos. 1hr 59mins (119mins). Element Pictures/Film4/Scarlet Films/Waypoint Entertainment. (15)

Producers: Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Yorgos Lanthimos, Lee Magiday.
Writers:
Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara.
Camera: Robbie Ryan.
Music: Various.
Sets: Fiona Crombie.

Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman, Nicholas Hoult, Mark Gattis, James Smith, Joe Alwyn, Carolyn Saint-Pe.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.