I know we’re in a dark situation, what with Bret Kavanaugh being under hot water for the sexual allegations and Bill Cosby finally getting what’s coming to him, but I was actually turned on by Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest entry “The Favourite.” The director is known for making such bizarre indies as “The Lobster” and “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” and here, he pokes fun at a behind the scenes look of Queen Anne’s reign during the early 18th century. This is probably his best film.
As the film begins, on the brink of a war between England and France, we meet Anne’s (Olivia Colman) close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and her arriving cousin Abigail (Emma Stone). She starts off a scullery maid, but after tending to the queen’s wounds, Sarah appoints her her maid.
Turns out Anne and Sarah are having an affair, and eventually the queen turns her attention to Abigail. “I like it when she puts her tongue in me,” says the queen. Ergo, it becomes a bitter rivalry for the two cousins.
And throughout the movie, Anne becomes mentally ill what with the war and her wounds affecting her.
There’s a lot that needs to be seen in “The Favourite.” I love how attractive the movie is, not just for the women, but for its visual style. Look how the characters are placed in certain scenes, which often look like the camera was sort of trying to make a squeezed panorama. And how the director puts the characters in big spaces, that’s amazing.
The costumes and production designs of the movie are fascinating. Most of the men wear white, grey, brown, and black wigs (though I can’t figure out why exactly); and the women are dressed in lovely outfits-rags or dresses. And when the movie opens with the queen’s cloak being taken off, wow!
The performances in the movie are remarkable and damn funny. Colman is radiant when her character goes through the motions and shouts; Weisz and Stone are both sexy, smart, and charming; and you also get some amazing supporting work from Nicholas Hoult as the 1st Earl of Oxford, who bickers with Sarah, and Joe Alwyn as as a courtier, who becomes Abigail’s husband. They all have a lot to offer, kudos to Lanthimos’ guidance.
And I especially admire the film’s dark and goofy tone. The most memorable shots are when Abigail and Sarah shoot ducks for sport, and when Abigail shoots one, some blood splats on Sarah’s face; and when the men are throwing oranges at a naked man holding his privates. He looks like he’s having fun and so are the men. Let’s not forget the pet rabbits the queen has and plays with. And even back then, the movie loves cursing and sex.
If you’re into this kind of nuttiness, then “The Favourite” is the one for you.
In Select Cites November 23
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