THE FAVOURITE (2018) – My rating: 9.5/10

The Favourite is a period piece and a comedy-drama directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara. It is a co-production by producers in Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Set in the early 18th century, the story examines the relationship between two cousins vying to be court favourites of Queen Anne. The American Film Institute selected The Favourite as one of its top 10 films of 2018. Among other accolades, the film received five Golden Globe Award nominations, including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. My favorite category (no pun intended) of motion pictures to watch is a period piece. I’m more than glad I got to see The Favourite — It was brilliant.

In 1708, Britain is at war with France and a somewhat weakened Queen Anne (Olivia Coleman) is on the throne. Having been ill for some time, Queen Anne is frail and shows little interest in governing, instead she races ducks and plays with her 17 rabbits, each of which represents a child she has lost over the years. Her confidante, adviser and furtive lover, Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz), the Duchess of Marlborough, effectively rules the country through her influence on the eccentric Queen. Sarah’s efforts to control Anne are undermined only by Robert Harley (Nicholas Hoult), a Tory Member of Parliament and the 1st Earl of Oxford, who as a landowner, argues against a doubling of property taxes proposed in order to fund the war.  Life is good for Sarah.

****  SPOILERS BELOW  ****

Change comes when Abigail Hill (Emma Stone), Sarah’s impoverished younger cousin, arrives at Court in search of employment. Abigail’s standing is tainted by her father, who gambled away his good name and lost his daughter to a German in a card game. Abigail is initially forced to do menial work as a scullery maid in the palace, but after seeing the Queen’s condition, she fines an opportunity to ingratiate herself with Sarah and eventually, Queen Anne herself. Sarah picks herbs from the garden and formulates a paste to heal the Queen’s inflamed legs. Though she is initially punished by Sarah for her presumptuous actions, Sarah relents when she realises the remedy does ease the Queen’s suffering. In gratitude, Sarah makes Abigail her lady of the bedchamber.  In the meanwhile, Harley approaches Abigail, hoping to use her as a spy in order to find out what Sarah’s schemes are and figure out a way to circumvent her authority. Abigail initially rebuffs him, but soon she becomes aware of the secret lesbian relationship between Queen Anne and Sarah.

At this point the fun really begins, Sarah vs  Abigail vs Queen Anne.  I cannot say enough about the goings on in The Favourite palace.  I was thoroughly entertained.  I haven’t seen a period piece as lively, clever and as well executed since the 1988 movie, Dangerous Liaisons.  I don’t want to give away the whole movie, so I’ll stop here and hope that you will see it for yourself.  It’s no wonder The Favourite won so many awards and nominations, it’s brilliant.  There are quite a few twist and turns that you won’t see coming.  Who will win the controlling position between Sarah and Abigail?  My only criticism is the ending, which left me a little confused.  I would have liked the final action defined so that what was happening would be perfectly clear and not ambiguous or left to the imagination. At any rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if The Favourite takes home a few Oscars.  BTW: Olivia Colman won the Golden Globe for Best Actress — Check it Out!

[The Favourite is Oscar nominated for Best:  Picture, Actress, 2 Supporting Actress nominations, Director, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Production Design, Custome Design and Film Editing] 

 

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