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The Favourite – A Devilishly Dark Comedic Drama

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The Favourite, from 20th Century Fox, presents the story of 18th Century England, when war and excess raged, and ambitions from the women left to advise and serve the Queen drove them to scandalous and naughty ways.

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite stars Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Joe Alwyn, Mark Gatiss, James Smith, Emma Delves, Faye Daveney, Jennifer White, Lilly Rose Stevens, Denise Mack, and was written by Debra Davis and Tony McNamara.

The Favourite begins with Queen Anne played by Olivia Colman, seeking the approval of Lady Sarah, played by Rachel Weisz who cordially praises the beauty of the Queen. She, of course, questions her loyalty and believes she is simply attempting to blind her with empty compliments.


 

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For today, however, the Queen accepts the saccharin laced flattery even if common sense would have shown her the motives behind the fawning. The Queen needs a friend, confident, someone who understands ruling a nation, especially at the time of war, is not easy.

We met Abigail, played by Emma Stone, on her way to plead with her cousin, Lady Sarah, who is the confident of Queen Anne. Armed with only her a letter of introduction, her beautiful looks, an ability to seize the situation and capitalize on weakness, she is determined to regain her position as a Lady.

Unfortunately, the path to ladyship begins with a somewhat shocking situation as the masturbating passenger across from her and then of course the stop by the carriage which lands her in a pile of mud and manure. Her milky white complexion now replaced with streaks of darkened poo, which upon arrival she is told to clean up before they show her to Lady Sarah.

As first impression would go, a wrong turn lands her in the presence of Lady Sarah, and as it happened before she had the chance to freshen up, a misplaced word has her forever in the kitchen.

Today, however she is fortunate enough to be given audience and told she will be working in the kitchen. She is told to scrub the floor and given a bucket of lye soap with scalding water. In order to soothe the pain, she takes a horse and finds wild herbs which combined act as a healing coolant.


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The Queen, although not confined to a wheelchair, has problems with her legs, the pain from a skin infection leaves her with burning, itching, aching leg muscles. Lady Sarah who is secretly meeting Lord Marlborough and other members of the House in order to prepare the decrees the Queen would announce left the her alone and asleep or so she thought.

Slipping into the Queens room Abigail uncovers the bandages and applies the herbal remedy. She is caught by Lady Sarah who sends her to be whipped. Just as the lashings had begun, they stop. It seems the Queen’s legs feel better and so Abigail moves from the kitchen to the Queen second courtier.

Thus begins the war between Lady Sarah and Abigail as they each work to manipulate the emotions of the Queen, who is seen as silly, removed from the subjects of her kingdom, unable to govern, and that’s public opinion. Privately, she never recovered from a life of miscarriages, and allowed, as her husband died, to become comfortable with personal care from her female courtiers.

The Favourite invites the audience into this wicked season, at war with the French removed from the front, and holds the attention as we see two desperate women, one secure and one willing to sacrifice all for the power of a title.

The circumvent, which is played out in so many films this season, is never more enticing then in The Favourite, as Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz are both bring a devilishly cunning wickedness, the art of seductive flattery, empathetic deceit to their roles.

Olivia Colman’s performance as Queen Anne also explodes on the screen as she plays along with the games of the two hoping to win her attention and explains it as well. Her ailments which worsen throughout the film, are authentically presented and her emotional damage is also believable.

Her eccentricities, which seem frivolous advantages of the position, are in reality a coping mechanism which when explained are also genuinely presented. The scene was heartfelt and the delivery hit the mark.


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The acting is brilliant; even as the story is devilishly naughty, The Favourite is thoroughly mischievous, and scandalous in its presentation. A dark comedic must see drama.

The Favourite is playing in theaters everywhere. Check local listings.

 

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