Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos has a somewhat Brechtian style on what work of his I’ve seen. Granted, that’s just The Lobster, but now we have The Favourite, a movie somewhat based on actual English history.
Watson covered this one already, but that never stopped me before.
It’s sometime in the year 1708 and England is at war. But the real conflict is much closer to home as Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), a childish monarch with health issues, is seemingly unable to actually rule, and as such, rule of the kingdom falls to her childhood friend Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz). Sarah is firm, and the arrangement doesn’t work for everybody, but then Sarah’s cousin Abigail Hill (Emma Stone), a woman of high birth fallen on hard times, arrives at the palace looking for work. From there, we see both Abigail and Sarah working to gain and then keep their position as the Queen’s Favourite, a position only one of them can obviously hold, and given the two become less friendly the longer the movie goes on, well, it won’t be going well for anyone when all is said and done.
Lanthimos’ movie doesn’t create a sympathetic character. The Queen is largely demanding and spoiled. Sarah acts above her station in a monarchy. Abigail, well, that would be telling. Historians have questioned the nature of the real Anne and Sarah’s relationship, but this movie makes the suspicions “true”. Were they? No one really knows, but it does change the nature of the relationship of the three. Arguably, this movie might be something of a “be careful what you wish for” sort of story, as both Sarah and Abigail vie for the same position and Anne lets them, possibly for the Queen’s own amusement. Toss in some foppish other aristocrats, the deranged entertainments of the super-rich in the Age of the Enlightenment, and an awful lot of rabbits, and you may not get a character you can root for so much as a movie that asks you to consider what the nature of power may actually be. I wouldn’t say I laughed at it, but it did have a sharp wit going for it. Draw your own conclusions on that. 8.5 out of 10 racing ducks.