THE FAVOURITE review by Ronnie Malik – Emma Stone leads a trio of powerhouse actresses

THE FAVOURITE review by Ronnie Malik – Emma Stone leads a trio of powerhouse actresses

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Cast: Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Jennifer White, LillyRose Stevens, James Smith, Mark Gatiss, Willem Dalby, Edward Aczel, Carolyn Saint-Pé, John Locke, Nicholas Hoult

Rating: B+

Gorgeous costumes, a beautiful palace, lords and ladies, the charm of life at court, sweeping picturesque country sides all offer up plenty of visual splendor in THE FAVOURITE – the latest film from visionary director Yorgos Lanthimos. But the typical look of period pieces isn’t what makes this ambitiously twisted dark and bawdy tale stand out. It is the powerhouse performances by a trio of ladies that will leave many talking about the film for a long time.

Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) who ruled England in the early 1700s finds herself in constant ill health and relies heavily on others to tell her what to do. She is never fully aware of what is really going on and would rather have her advisors bear the burden of making decisions to guide England to glory. The queen relies heavily on her trusted childhood friend the elegant and clever Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) Duchess of Marlborough. Positioning herself as Queen Anne’s most trusted advisor, Lady Sarah has the queen wrapped around her finger, making the monarch emotionally dependent on her which in turn puts Sarah in a position to quietly rule the country from behind the scenes. Much to the horror of Harley (Nicholas Hoult), a nobleman and government official, The Duchess is determined to raise taxes on British citizens so the she can ensure that the war in France will continue and thus bring glory to her husband, Lord Marlborough (Mark Gatiss).

Things are going according to Lady Sarah’s plan when Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives at court. Abigail, cousin to Lady Sarah, at one time was a lady but has fallen on hard times due to her father’s gambling habits. Sarah takes pity on Abigale and gives her young cousin shelter and a position of maid in the royal palace. The sly and charming Abigale studies the drama and dynamics around her and it is not long before she starts laying the ground work for an opportunity to raise her status. The alluring predator starts plotting her way into the queen’s heart as she systematically begins to destroy Sarah’s power, reputation, and position with the queen. The war between the two family members is on as the two women duke it out through scheming and conspiring to maintain their control and influence on their sovereign leader.

THE FAVOURITE storyline is broken up into 8 chapters each filled with clever coarse dialogue that is often very funny. This production by Yorgos Lanthimos is a bizarre murky comedy that exploits some of the traditions of the times as utterly ridiculous. A twisted love triangle, the story is an engaging portrayal of characters that are often vile and nasty in their pursuit of power. There are many tense well done scenes between Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz as each threatens the other once they discover that they are adversaries. The two come across more as psychopaths than ladies of leisure and that is what makes them so fun to watch.

Olivia Colman is stellar as an aging, ill, temperamental and often childish queen that is oblivious to what the people around her are crafting. Coleman creates a ruler that is absurd and comical but still manages to command those around her as she barks out orders with every mood change. Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone have amazing chemistry on screen as they duke it out in the battle of wits to win the queen’s favor. Nicholas Hoult, barely recognizable under the wig and make up, is worth a mention. His portrayal of a flamboyant over the top fashionista try to maneuver his way around the court to get what he wants is excellent.

Adding to flavor of this odd comedy are the camera angles moving through dark corridors, gliding through plush rooms, and sweeping over lavish estates. The costume designs display amazing detail and are absolutely stunning. The scenery throughout the film gives it quite a bit of flare making it beautiful and very stunning. THE FAVOURITE is a very strange satire with lots of odd twists and turns along with a weird unexpected ending that will leave some scratching their heads wondering about the point of the movie. But those who can appreciate astonishing performances by just about every cast member may just judge this film as one of their… favorites.

THE FAVOURITE opens November 30, 2018

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