“Cinema Stephanie” Vol. III, No.1 (Jan. 2019)
(U.S.A./Ireland/U.K, 2018; Element Pictures, Scarlet Films Film 4,Waypoint Entertainment; 119 min.
R Rating; Director Yorgos Lanthimos)
Viewed in London, England Oct. 2018 at the BFI London Film Festival
Ambition, betrayal, greed, lust, deception. Is it a variation with five (of the so called seven) deadly sins"? Is it 2018? No. it’s c. 1702 in the realm of Queen Anne of England, where every man (or woman) is essentially out for themselves. The challenge is to stay in favor or be exiled from the Court setting so coveted as portrayed in The Favourite, now in wide release.
The subtitle of this opulent (costumes and sets) historical drama about royals and their antics in the early 18thcentury might be “All About Abigail” (Emma Stone as Abigail, a deposed aristocrat attempting to be restored), a play on Eve Harrington (Ann Baxter) the conniving ingénue and ingratiating nemesis of Bette Davis as prima donna actress Margo Channing in the acclaimed All About Eve (star studded 1950 Academy Award® classic), though Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) is no Margo, rather a more arrogantly insecure monarch who is quite sad in spite of her status and grandeur. Get ready for a bumpy, droll, conniving and curious ride.
If Abigail is a faux protagonist then the antagonist is Lady Sara Churchill (Rachel Weisz) who has a rather mesmerizing effect on her longtime friend Anne, and knows how to manipulate in the most sagacious style.
Be warned the film is a bit bawdy, if not racy for the language, sexual references, and some nudity. The three leads are all distinct and strong and come award time will undoubtedly be in competition, if not contention, which thickens the plot, just as they are in this tangled tale.
Is the story historically accurate, that’s to be determined by more reading and research at the library and books about the era . Who will prevail as favourite (sic) is revealed when and if you see the movie.