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The Favourite - Film Review

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by Zac and Kiri (subscribe)
Reviewers from Brisbane, Australia.
Published January 14th 2019

To start, The Favourite is bonkers, lavish, and explicitly sexual (homosexual no less!). It is also excellent.

The story centres on the real-life characters of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) and her long-time confidant, friend, and lover, Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz), who wields significant political power through her influence on the unpredictable and unwell Queen. Enter Abigail Hill (Emma Stone), a former well-bred lady looking to regain her place in the world after her father lost her, and their fortune, to gambling. As Abigail gains favour (and intimacy) with the Queen, a rivalry develops between herself and Sarah. It should be mentioned that while the characters and vague scenarios are pulled from historical narrative, the events are not meant to be factual.

The director, Yorgos Lanthimos, creates a farcical world where politicians, queens and ladies seem to be play-acting at running the country. The clothing and make-up are overtly costume-like, which heightens the sense of unrealism. For the most part, the film is ridiculous and bawdy and at least one audience member guffawed loudly and often (usually a bit too late and for too long, especially after the lesbian jokes).

The film does take a sinister turn though after the hijinks of playing favourite and the "winners" fall into place. I, personally, enjoyed the ending less than the more light-hearted beginning, but I do understand that this probably makes it a better and more meaningful movie. I also understand that it was never really light-hearted to begin with, as there are aspects of abusive relationships (do you call it gaslighting in the 18th century? Looking at you Sarah), manipulation, and governments acting for personal rather than public gain.

However, delivering these themes with the frivolity that The Favourite manages to impart is difficult and is helped in a great part by the amazing acting of the three leads. All three deliver a charismatic and nuanced performance. The scripting is witty and surprising and at time laugh-out-loud ridiculous. It is definitely worth seeing, so grab your wig and head to your closest cinema!

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