The Favourite (2018)
R | 1h 59min | Biography, Comedy, Drama | 23 November 2018 (USA)
Synopsis: In early 18th century England, 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.
Award probability: 80% with high points for costume design, cinematography, and ensemble acting. Olivia Colman could squeeze in a best actress nomination as well.
Review: Congrats to the person who edited the trailer for the new Bio Drama THE FAVOURITE. It was enticing and the perfect set up for what was to come. 18th Century England is always a grand backdrop for political debauchery and deplorable antics. This farce holds nothing back as we get duck racing, naked orange dodgeball, rabbit birthdays, and food indulgences; all during war time.
In this story Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) calls the shots as a feeble Queen Anne has neither the confidence or the spine to do so. Sarah uses her close, long time friendship with Anne (Olivia Colman) as a manipulation tool. Anne is so devoted to Sarah that she can’t find the nerve to cross her. When Sarah’s cousin Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives unannounced and begins to encroach on Sarah’s turf it causes an all out war between the two to find out who can be the favorite of the queen.
This is an enjoyable film to watch with a strong story, solid acting, and a gorgeous use of color and costume. It is hard to keep your jaw from dropping a few times as you watch the lengths that Abigail and Sarah go to in order to sabotage each other. Sarah delivers verbal assault on anyone and everyone around her. Weisz says each line with conviction and normalcy so that you you never doubt where her character stands. It is a standout performance and one to revel in. Although Abigail is easy to root for early on you later find yourself doubting your alliance as a viewer. Stone is what we expect. She is always better at playing the mousy victim than the vicious villain but does enough here to sell it.
Colman is the one to love in this one though. She plays the pampered Queen to new lofts. Just when you think she is teetering on the brink of comical camp she pulls it back in and gives the next line with gut wrenching honesty. Whether screaming for her servants or wallowing in self pity she is a triumph. The most important element is that she never lets you, or the characters around her, forget she is queen.
THE FAVOURITE is rated R for strong sexual content, nudity and language and is certainly an adult film. The strong R is earned with gusto so be aware going in. It isn’t wall to wall but there enough to make its mark. It is woven into the film though so that you sort of allow it and tune it out if needed. This is a film to watch if you follow the awards circuit or just simply love quirky period pieces with spot on acting.