the Favourite

A hi­lar­i­ous yet emo­tive pe­riod drama that breaks all the rules of its genre

All About History - - THROUGH HISTORY -

Cer­tifi­cate 15 Cre­ator Yor­gos Lan­thi­mos Cast Olivia Col­man, rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, ni­cholas Hoult, Joe Al­wyn Re­leased 1 Jan­uary 2019 (UK)

When it comes to the sil­ver screen, films set in 18th cen­tury Eng­land are few and far be­tween, and one monarch who is con­sis­tently over­looked is Queen Anne, the last of the Stu­art dy­nasty. Yet if there is one thing The Favourite proves it is that Anne’s reign de­serves to be shone in the spot­light.

The film cen­tres around Queen Anne, played by Col­man, and the two women who com­pete for her favour – Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marl­bor­ough, played by Weisz, and Abi­gail Masham, played by Stone.

Abi­gail ar­rives at court as Sarah’s cousin and a former lady, who has lost her for­tune and stand­ing thanks to her fa­ther’s reck­less gam­bling. Sarah gives her a job in the palace kitchens, un­aware that Abi­gail is will­ing to do any­thing to get back to the top.

It is a rar­ity in cinema to see a film led by three women, Queen Anne played by Col­man, Sarah Churchill by Weiss, and Abi­gail Masham by Stone, let alone a pe­riod piece.

The tri­an­gle be­tween Anne, Sarah and Abi­gail pro­vides an in­ter­est­ing dy­namic against a back­drop of po­lit­i­cal in­trigue and war, which man­ages to keep you cap­ti­vated for the en­tire film. Re­fresh­ingly, it is great to see that none of these fe­male char­ac­ters as­sume the typ­i­cal vic­tim or femme fa­tale roles, but rather they are all shown to be com­pli­cated women fight­ing for power and love in a man’s world – rather than just sat around gos­sip­ing over tea, they are shoot­ing and hunt­ing just as well as any of their male coun­ter­parts.

Speak­ing of the male char­ac­ters, par­tic­u­larly Lord Har­ley and Lord Godol­phin, it is en­ter­tain­ing to see them rely on Abi­gail and Sarah in or­der to gain the elu­sive ac­cess to the queen – and to the power – that they need.

Col­man is mes­meris­ing as Queen Anne, a char­ac­ter who spends the ma­jor­ity of the film act­ing like a spoilt child – largely due to the fact that Sarah has in­fan­tilised her. How­ever, Sarah is well aware that the power she rel­ishes is de­pen­dent on Anne and so she of­ten had to mol­lify her and al­though the au­di­ence is only given mere glimpses, it is clear that their re­la­tion­ship goes beyond friend­ship.

One of the most poignant mo­ments of the film oc­curs dur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Anne and Abi­gail, dis­cussing the queen’s de­vo­tion to her pet rab­bits. As the au­di­ence dis­cov­ers these rab­bits rep­re­sent the 17 chil­dren Anne has lost ei­ther through mis­car­riage or still­birth.

It is evokes both heart­break and sym­pa­thy for the queen, who spends the ma­jor­ity of her days be­ing wheeled around the palace as she suf­fers from crip­pling at­tacks of gout.

Bawdy, dra­matic, funny and emo­tional all rolled into one, The Favourite is cer­tainly un­con­ven­tional for a pe­riod drama.

The film is pep­pered through­out with swear­ing and mo­ments of ob­scen­ity, driv­ing home the point that Lan­thi­mos clearly did not want it to fit into the stereo­typ­i­cal po­lite­ness that usu­ally de­fines this genre of movie – and should ap­peal to any­one who en­joys an en­gag­ing his­tor­i­cal drama.

Vis­ually stun­ning, The

Favourite will keep you gripped right to the end.

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