The Favourite review
In any high-pressure position (political, business, entertainment, etc…), power is the most addictive drug anyone can succumb to. Most can tell that once your at the top of something, it's hard to imagine your life before that or after. It really has to do with that subconscious instinct in which all people want to feel important. Once they do become important, it's scary for them to think that no one would want to listen anymore. They have more authority and can feel like a king in their own domain. So the longer they retain that power, the harder it becomes to accept should they lose it.
Today's movie deals with a interesting situation involving three people that are addicted to power; one who is starting from the bottom, one whose been at the top for a while, and another at the top whose mental state is becoming worse. Putting two together is bad enough, but a third one can only create chaos. The situation happened more often then not in a monarch, especially an older one. For the situation within The Favourite, we find a mad queen, her lesbian lover, and a woman who sees potential in a declining crazy person.
It's the early eighteenth century where Brittan is at war with France. Queen Anne (played by Olivia Colman) is suffering physical ailments and is losing her interest in politics in favor of wealthy parties and caring for her seventeen rabbits, which also represent her seventeen children that have passed on. Because of her disconnect with parliament, her confidant and lover Sarah Churchill (played by Rachel Weisz) has so much influence that she pretty much runs the country from ideas she passes onto the queen. At the same time, a new state tax is initiated from a landowner Robert Harley (played by Nicholas Hoult) that proves to be unpopular with the rest of parliament.
One way, Sarah's younger cousin Abigail Hill (played by Emma Stone) arrives in the queens court for a job. Abigail once came from a baron family, but lost it when her father lost her in a gamble. She's hired to work as a scullery maid, but ends up winning the queens approval when she offers herbs that soothe pain from gout. Abigail becomes the queens lady-in-waiting and soon learns about the affair between Anne and Sarah. It becomes a power game when the younger cousin starts to gain a friendship with the queen while Sarah's power is challenged.
The Favourite is the kind of movie that is the example of divisive. People are either going to like this or hate it. I personally liked it enough to say that it works more as a comedy then a historical retelling. The historical aspect is good, but ill get to that in a bit. The reason this works is because of the characters and the relationships their a part of.
This is a movie that belongs to all three of the main stars; Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone. I'm not sure how accurate everything was, but these feel like oddball, but dangerous people I could see within government. Olivia hits the points of carrying a lot of nobility and worsening mental state, yet never leaning too far to one side. Rachel Weisz is great as a serial manipulator whose had years of experience pulling off the job. And of course, Emma Stone is one of the better two-facers I've seen in cinema; playing herself as delicate when she needs to be, and then back stabbing the next. Her performance is almost on par with Scarlet in Gone With the Wind.
As far as the movie goes, this is where people are going to come at a crossroads. Director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster) knows how to make the palaces and costumes feel big with the constant use of wide angles and fisheye shots. In fact, there isn't too much use of movement, even though everything still feels fluid. This is either going to pull people into the story or detract them. It can sometimes be a little distracting as it does try to be more "artsy" then it needs to be.
I'll give this four racing ducks out of five. The Favourite fits in the same category of Baroque historical movies like Barry Lyndon and Amadeus. It's clear that a mainstream audience isn't going to be as invested as they would for a blockbuster. But that's why I give this more credit; it knows it's audience it's trying to reach. If your hungry for power and a more oddball royalty movie then your used to, then check it out.