“THE FAVOURITE”— A Dark Comedy Drama

“The Favourite” A Dark Comedy Drama Amos Lassen A frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend, Lady Sarah, governs the country in her stead. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Set in early 18th century England,
“The Favourite” is an elegant, sophisticated and entertaining dark comedy drama from director Yorgos Lanthimos. Lanthimos is out to shock with a little strong sexual content, nudity and very strong language and these are at odds with the beauty of the settings. Three brilliant female characters at the center of the drama, all of them brilliantly performed by fine actresses who know a good thing when they see one and share that with us. Olivia Colman is Queen Anne and has terrible troubles with her legs and performs the duties of the throne with the help of her very close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), who is ruling the nation in her place. Emma Stone is Abigail, a former lady fallen on hard times and when she arrives at the royal palace, she is taken on by Sarah as her new servant (after she eases the Queen’s leg pain with an herbal remedy). Abigail is a mix of great cheek and charm and is soon going to be Sarah’s rival for the attentions and affections of the Queen. Colman, Weisz and Stone are all just great.  The men’s roles are subsidiary, though there is just about space for excellent Nicholas Hoult who spits out epigrams with Wildean vigor. The other men are Joe Alwyn as Masha, Mark Gaits as Lord Marlborough and James Smith as Godolphin.
This feminist period dramedy has an outrageous plot loosely based on historical figures of the time which gives us a glorious tale of jealousy and intrigue. Sarah, the Duchess of Marlborough is the de-facto monarch as she literally controls everything the Queen says and does.   She is also the Queen’s lover and uses this intimacy as a means to keep the Queen in check as much as possible. Anne is lonely and childless having had 17 stillborn births and miscarriages (there is no mention at all of her husband in this drama) and her only solace, besides the Duchess, are the 17 pet rabbits that share her bedroom. 
Abigail is a cousin of the Duchess whose family have fallen on hard times and is now destitute. She is employed as a lowly servant but manages to create some attention for herself when an herbal concoction she creates eases the Queen’s gout. For this she is elevated to be the Duchess’s personal maid, this  makes her privy to some of the very intimate activity of the Queen’s bedchamber, and very soon she is plotting to take over the Duchess’s position in and out of the queen’s bed. The two cousins become mortal enemies and both deviously scheme to make sure The plot is filled with intrigue and double-dealing with this two ambitious women scheming for the patronage of their queen.
The film has three fine roles for women and three talented actresses more give it their all.  Coleman perfectly captures the unbalanced Queen and her massive mood swings that unhinge the Court.  She is perfectly matched my Weisz as the Machiavellian Duchess who has already wrangled a  Palace as a gift from the Queen and is determined to hang on to the reins of power which she thinks are rightly hers.  Stone may be more inexperienced in playing power games, but soon learns how to successfully out play her elders.Olivia Colman balances her portrayal of Queen’s with self-indulgence, self-pity and actual despair. Queen Anne suffers from gout, which she treats herself. never was held responsible for her actions in her life. She is also the ruler of a country and has the last word on questions of taxes and decides on matters of war and peace that directly have an effect on thousands of people.

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