THE FAVOURITE: From a pure production standpoint, this British period film is near flawless. Fiona Crombie’s interior production design of an 18th century palatial estate ringed by wet manure on the outside of its’ entrance is informed by authenticity as is the costume design from Sandy Powell that beautifully reproduces the attire of that era’s elite. Robbie Ryan’s utilization of ultra wide lenses to depict the semi-distorted residents of the locale with their love of goose racing and pelting naked guys with oranges (I still have no idea what that was about.) along with his extreme close-ups portraying the emotions of the lead characters gives this movie a unique sense of itself. The plot is a fairly simple one about two ambitious, conniving women (Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz) who are vying for the literal affections of a queen (Olivia Colman) equally riddled with dementia and gout plus an unwillingness to tackle sensitive, weighty affairs of state that might make her unpopular with gentrified landowners having to finance a continuing war with the French. Weisz (See CLOSING CREDITS.) is a power behind the throne adviser/personal assistant/lover of the erratic monarch perfectly willing to accept the fact that her husband (Mark Gatiss) might be killed in battle so long as she retains her position while Stone (LA LA LAND) is a servant from a once-prominent family who manipulates her way into the palace inner circle as a means of returning to her aristocratic roots. The screenplay by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara is a hilarious satire of the disconnect that exists between royals and the outside world that translates well to our time and setting. The three lead actresses (Who, interestingly enough, all throw up during the course of this film.) are fun to watch with Colman (MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING), who’s primarily a stage actress, doing amazing work as a character who’s an alternately comical, deranged and tragic figure. The storyline has an ALL ABOUT EVE (1951) feel to it where an apprentice or person of a lower station supplants her powerful mentor through deception and guile. These are truly empowered, albeit flawed women whose stratagems always have our attention. In a way, this is the movie that MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS wanted to be but couldn’t quite pull off. No worries, because this one did. CRITIC’S GRADE: A-

 

CLOSING CREDITS: Here are some other good/excellent movies starring Rachel Weisz a.k.a. Mrs. Daniel Craig – STEALING BEAUTY (1996), ABOUT A BOY (2002), RUNAWAY JURY (2003), THE CONSTANT GARDENER (2005)*, THE DEEP BLUE SEA (2012), THE LOBSTER (2016), DISOBEDIENCE (2017)

*Academy Award Winner for Best Supporting Actress