#REVIEW: “THE FAVOURITE”
Review by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
It is the early 18th century in Great Britain and its ruler, Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), is not at her best. She has taken to her bed, her failing body racked in pain, not having fully recovered from 17 pregnancies that never went full term and dealing with the finances and logistics of her kingdom declaring war on France and Spain. In her weakened and confused state of mind, she is completely reliant on the counsel of her closest companion Lady Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz), the Duchess of Marlborough who is a shrewd political tactician who is not above using her power, wit and sexuality to get what she wants. Into this fray enters Abigail Hill (Emma Stone), a poor, distant relative to the Duchess. First consigned to work as a maid in the palace, Abigail very quickly establishes herself as a force to be reckoned with and easily ingratiates herself onto Queen Anne usurping Sarah Churchill’s influence over the Queen.
Welcome to the world of Director Yorgos Lanthimos’s delicious Black Comedy, THE FAVOURITE.
Unlike so many serious Costume Dramas that focus the dysfunctions of the royals in power at the time, this Movie is a diabolical, sexually-fueled and female-centric spin. The men in THE FAVOURITE (that include Nicholas Hoult in his best work to date and relative newcomer Joe Alwyn as Abigail’s romantic interest) are secondary characters to the triumvirate of powerful, brilliant and manipulative women. The performances of the three Lead Actresses, each with their unique interpretations and strengths, bring to mind the brilliant performances by every lady starring in the classic ALL ABOUT EVE.
As Queen Anne, Olivia Colman (soon to star in season three of THE CROWN as Elizabeth ll) has the showiest role and commands your undivided attention whenever she is on-screen. Not only does she evoke sympathy, she is terrifying when enraged. Rachel Weisz as Lady Churchill is never less than mesmerizing. The character’s coldness belies her personal need for power and control. And just when you think Emma Stone has reached the zenith of her career already, think again! She keeps gets better and better. I can easily see another Oscar on her mantelpiece for her portrayal. She brings a modern spin to Abigail that would ruin the Movie in the hands of a less-gifted actress.
I have always had a love/hate relationship with the work of Yorgos Lanthimos in the past, but I was flabbergasted by his accomplishments with this Movie. In his most audience-friendly movie to date, he has taken a Masterpiece Theatre plot and not only turned it on its head, it spins wildly like a dervish. THE FAVOURITE is subversive, compelling and wicked. The humour is sly, the pathos generated is genuine and the vision and visuals are laser focused and impressive.
In a year already filled with cinematic wonders, THE FAVOURITE towers brilliantly.
Fox Searchlight release THE FAVOURITE Friday, December 7, 2018 in Toronto. It opens Friday, December 21, 2018 in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Victoria and Halifax.