‘The Favourite’ review: A royal satire where women hold all the power
Greek writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos’ newest film ‘The Favourite’ is a star-studded dark comedy that’s as shocking as it is funny
A satirical take of figures in the court of Queen Anne with a lesbian love triangle? Well, that sure is a unique premise and is one that will certainly take viewers by surprise with its quick wit and dramatic plot twists. Starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone ‘The Favourite’ is a comedic take on the court of Queen Anne (Colman), the monarch who ruled Great Britain in the early 18th century.
The queen suffers from gout and her memory is slipping, so, she leaves the business of ruling the country to Lady Sarah Churchill (Weisz), whom she is also having a love affair with. That is until Sarah’s long-lost cousin Abagail Hill (Stone) comes to the kingdom begging for a job. After Abagail’s father shamed their noble family with his gambling, Abagail was left to fend for herself going from a lady to a peasant.
At first Abagail comes off as someone that is too kind for her own good, which Stone plays brilliantly. However, after she finds out about the queen and Sarah’s secret love affair, it's clear Abagail’s intentions go far beyond being the kind handmaiden she pretends to be. Well aware of the queen’s sexual tendencies, Abagail seduces her, and little by little replaces Sarah’s role as the queen's lover, confidant and decision maker.
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The plot may sound melodramatic, which it is, but the best part of the film is that it doesn’t take itself seriously in the slightest. Laugh out loud moments of comedy are sprinkled throughout the entire film and are exacerbated by performances by Colman, Weisz and Stone. However, the performance that really stood out was Stone’s, who showed us a villainous and manipulative side we had never really seen her play before.
One of the most amusing aspects of the film, however, is its treatment of men, who are essentially portrayed as buffoons used as pawns by the powerful women that surround them. It’s easy to forget there was once a time when men dressed up as much, if not more, as women, wearing wigs and makeup, holding their appearance to the utmost standards. This is something we rarely see in male characters in film and television. So, this narrative was as refreshing as it was comical.
The script, penned by Tony McNamara and Deborah Davis, is sharp and painstakingly funny and Yorgos Lanthimos’ directing not only brings it to life, but also adds layers of physical comedy and a tad of horror. Colman, Weisz and Stone are the perfect trio we never knew we needed, bringing comedy and top-notch acting chops to this hilarious, feminist film.
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Coming in at just over two hours, ‘The Favourite’ is a film that moves quickly and ends with audiences wanting more. That said, the biggest issue with the movie is the ending, which doesn’t feel like an ending at all. While ‘The Favourite’ may not be for everyone, it assuredly has something in it everyone will enjoy.
’The Favourite’ will be released in select theaters November 23.