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By Megan Bianco
According to screenwriter Deborah Davis, it took almost 20 years for The Favourite to finally become a major motion picture. Supposedly back in 1998, Hollywood was claiming period pieces as unpopular and the lesbian arc too risqué. Over the years, attempts had been made to get the film officially greenlit, with A-list actresses such as Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet rumored to be attached. Now we get arthouse filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos’ first film without himself as an additional writer: The Favourite.
In the early 1700s, Queen Anne of Great Britain (Olivia Colman) has to deal with political relations and possible war with France while fighting serious health issues after contracting gout. While ill, the majority of Anne’s government duties are taken over by her longtime close friend and personal advisor, Duchess Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz). At the same time, Sarah’s cousin and newly appointed castle employee, Abigail Hill (Emma Stone), aids Anne as an assistant. Soon jealousy, secrets and betrayal are exposed among the three women.
Nicholas Hoult and Joe Alwyn co-star as the male supporting characters. The Favourite has all the aesthetics and necessities of a quality costume drama, but with Lanthimos’ usual quirky and slightly bizarre style to make it uniquely intriguing for fans of period films.
Stone portrays possibly her most interesting and versatile role to date, and Weisz is a powerhouse. The sexual content and foul language might feel too much at first, but the taboo content ultimately works in context. The dark satire is like a racy Cinderella—if the poor maid had found her way into the castle how Eve Harrington did in All About Eve (1950).