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‘The Favourite’ is a bawdy bedroom drama (review)

December 14, 2018

‘The Favourite’ is a bawdy bedroom drama (review)

CLEVELAND, Ohio – “The Favourite” is a costume drama that takes place in 18th-century England. It is rated R. Make that a hard R, in cinema-rating parlance.

It is a royal love triangle among Queen Anne, played by Olivia Colman; Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, played by Rachel Weisz; and Abigail, Sarah’s cousin, a down-on-her-luck former member of royalty played by Emma Stone.

All three women turn in performances of a lifetime. This movie is “Masterpiece Theatre” drama as seen through the bad-ass and bawdy lens of a Caligula-like choreographer. This nasty, laugh-out-loud story strips bare all the high-minded pretensions of every drama about royalty to come before. It’s not to be missed. And prepare to be outraged.

I saw director Yorgos Lanthimos’ previous film, “The Lobster,” and found it to be a pretentious, dystopian bore. “The Favourite” absolves him of all his previous cinematic sins. The movie hits the mark in every single frame. There isn’t a misstep in the entire two hours.

First honors go to Colman, who is spot-on as Queen Anne, the petulant, spoiled infant of a grown woman whose hobbies include raising rabbits (indoors), binge-eating and vomiting desserts, and ignoring her royal duties.

When asked about the war with the French, she tells Sarah, “We won that.” When informed that the war is still ongoing, she says, “I didn’t know that.”

Dark, perverse humor is the hallmark of “The Favourite” – and there is a lot of it. In the first half of the movie, the elite royals are portrayed as the debauched and demented ruling class. Loonies. It’s played as farce, and it works.

During the film’s second half, the plot bears down on the competition between Sarah and Abigail as they vie for the queen’s affection and her influence. Things take on a darkened tone, and the story becomes more serious. The stakes become potentially lethal.

Forget about the war between England and France. The war between Sarah and Abigail over Queen Anne is much more dramatic and entertaining.

“The Favourite” is not for delicate sensibilities. Those who are up for a somewhat vulgar and rough ride will enjoy the trip.

I will see it again. Soon.

REVIEW

The Favourite

Who: With Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn, James Smith, Mark Gatiss and Jenny Rainsford. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. 

Rated: R.

Running time: 119 minutes.

When: Opens Friday, Dec. 14.

Where: Area theaters.

Grade: A

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