By Ceara Kelly: Staff Writer
[Element Pictures; 2018]
Finally, a historical drama that’s worth watching. Two cousins battling over the sexual attention of Queen Anne of England for political power? That’s only one of the best plotlines ever. Coincidentally, it’s also the plotline of The Favourite. The film’s approach to both the LGBT and historical genres makes it stands out, as it breaks away from multiple cliches of both areas, creating a wild ride for the viewers.
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While The Favourite is clearly an LGBT movie meant to tell the story of the leads identity, and the film follows three women in a same-sex relationship, The Favorite is not a “lesbian movie.” Queen Anne, despite being far from conventionally attractive or kind, is fought over by her childhood best friend, Sarah (Rachel Weisz), and the newly arrived servant, Abigail (Emma Stone). It’s refreshing to see representation of the LGBT community without the driving force of the movie being tragedy or how hard it is to be gay. Instead, it is about the struggles of being a woman with little political power and finding any way to have a say. Viewers don’t need to fully understand the politics of 18th century England. Most of the political drama is simply a matter of “whoever has the queen’s ear wins parliament.” Which side of parliament Sarah and Abigail each support is also cleverly told through visual hints throughout the movie.
The costuming in The Favorite is not just pretty dresses and fancy coats, though they are certainly there. The costume designer, Sandy Powell, made sure that the clothes aren’t just fitting of the elegant black and white color scheme. Abigail’s costumes always tell just as much of her story as anything. She wears more garish garments as the film progresses in order to represent her climbing of the social ladder and to flash her new wealth. As she gravitates away from her cousin, Sarah, Abigail’s wardrobe goes from less black (Sarah’s dominant color) to entirely white (the color of the rival political party, the Tories) by the movie’s end. Even the servants are found in denim, a working-class fabric. Aside from the great storytelling elements of these costumes, they are gorgeous. Every single athletic outfit in Sarah’s wardrobe should come back to mainstream fashion today.
On top of this, the chemistry of the three lead actresses is phenomenal. A movie based upon the relationships of these three women means the actors must, at the least, fake chemistry, but their relationships feel truly genuine. The women clearly enjoy their time together off set; Olivia Colman (Queen Anne) playfully referred to the others as “her bitches,” which is right in line with the surprisingly humorous tone of the movie.
Overall, The Favourite is a fun movie despite the serious story. The humor is light, the relationships feel genuine and the politics are actually intriguing. The praise goes on and on, but with the worst thing being the bizarre use of kerning on the title cards, they deserve every bit of it.
Watch the trailer here: