Are There Lesbians? Yes
Two women vie for the favour of the powerful yet capricious Queen Anne
Look, I went into this knowing I would love it. I am a sucker for period pieces and the trailers for The Favourite made it appear witty and engaging, as well as beautifully researched and filmed. Luckily, this was not one of those cases where all the best bits are in the trailer and The Favourite not only lived up to expectations but thoroughly trounced them. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were several awards doled out to well-deserving actors, costumiers (nice work Sandy Powell) and writers. Since first writing, Olivia Colman has been awarded the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a comedy/musical, and it was probably for this scene alone:
You can tell that Nicholas Hoult really relished his role as Harley, the leader of the opposition, and he flounces around the set with great aplomb, and it would be no surprise if Blackadder’s portrayal of George I was something of an inspiration here. Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz as Abigail and Lady Sarah are vicious and full of pathos by turns – you truly don’t know who to vie for in their battle of manners, words and, occasionally, fists. Of course, Olivia Colman dominates every scene she is in, and even some that she isn’t – as Queen Anne, her presence and power is felt everywhere. Her Anne is darkly comical, overly sentimental and domineering by turns, just when you think she is being led by the nose she turns around and reminds the world exactly who she is – the Queen. It is a truly remarkable performance to stand out among so many others.
Each “chapter” of the film is introduced by a short title card with a quote from said chapter – some appear as throwaway lines while others are given more statement, but each summarises the feeling of that chapter. Personally I had a bit of an issue with the spacing of font that was used – it was difficult to read when it was short chapter headings, but as it was also used for the ending credits, I found it practically impossible to decipher, and I do love me some credits reading! Unfortunately because of this (and because I had to run to then see Colette) I didn’t get to see the production babies, which always brings me joy.
When this film was called “The Favourite” I assumed, as one might, that it simply referred to the favourite lady-in-waiting of the Queen, because said favourites often get special favours, expensive gifts and more power than they probably deserve. This was definitely involved, but what I wasn’t expecting was the sexual component that this also included. Imagine my glee when what I thought was a simple monarchic period comedy, became a monarchic period comedy WITH LESBIANS. WHAT A CONCEPT!! I was living! Hell, I still am. It’s been a week and I’m still not the fantastic line “I like it when she puts her tongue insides me.”It makes it better that the cinema was full of old people, and then there was me and my friends – four millenial gays – just absolutely screaming. I have to admit however, that my favourite comedic moment didn’t come from the film itself but from when Emma Stone’s character is massaging the Queen’s leg until… she isn’t. It was at this point that my friend turned to me and said “She’s not touching her leg, is she.” Because no, no she wasn’t.
Having The Favourite as my first movie of the year is really giving me big expectations for the films to come. I think it will be a hard one to beat, simply because so much of the joy it provided was truly unexpected (there is a short and mostly irrelevant subplot featuring Horatio as the Fastest Duck in the City?!). Not to mention that I finally kind of get why Taylor Swift described Joe Alwyn as “fit like a daydream.” Any film that provides the same enjoyment, or more so, that The Favourite has, will have done an incredible job, but I’m calling it now – The Favourite will be in my top ten films of 2019.