Summary: Lady Sarah and simple peasant Abigail fight for the affections of an ailing Queen Anne.
It’s been a while since I watched a good period piece. The Favourite is one of this year’s assumed award frontrunners, for good reasons- it’s utterly charming, a real actor’s piece, rich in visuals, darkly comedic, and entirely entertaining. I imagine The Favourite would be the result if Kenneth Branagh were to go out for a night of heavy drinking and drugs. I’ve heard should see Yorgos Lanthimas’ other works and if it’s anything like this, I am on board.
I have to admit, I was a little skeptical coming in, mostly because of Emma Stone- this really has me on board for the rest of her career. She started treading into that “I’m playing myself” category for me and I was curious to see how she would fare against the likes of Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman. I don’t think there are a lot of actresses that could have pulled the role of Abigail off and she did it well. The real star of the show is Colman, who has one real quiet scene for every hammy one. Her eyes are enough to reveal the inner thoughts of Queen Anne.
There are a couple of things that set The Favourite aside from a typical historical dramedy, namely how stylish it is as well as the manner in which it’s delivered. It might not be 100% historically accurate, but that’s what makes it so engaging. A lot of historical pieces suffer from being somewhat safe in a formulaic sense, and The Favourite isn’t afraid to be a little weird, using fish-eye lenses and tilted angles in its shots. And to say that The Favourite is rich in visuals is an understatement- there’s something to be studied in every single inch of this movie. If I wasn’t laughing, I was gushing over the aesthetics. It’s very neutral in its color scheme but every scene screams with vibrancy and life somehow. I’d be shocked if this didn’t get nominated and win for art direction, costume design (Sandy Powell), and cinematography (Robbie Ryan) at the Oscars. Maybe editing. At least a nomination for that.
If I wasn’t so on board with Black Panther‘s soundtrack, I’d hand over music to William Lyons for The Favourite too. It’s one of this year’s more purposeful scores and used to undercut or pace the beats of scenes. I don’t know if an organ has ever been used with such gusto for a film.
All in all, I had a great time with The Favourite. It might not be your particular cup of tea, but for me, it was just the amount of quirky and opulence that had been missing for the large part of this year.