Just like that, the final stop of our Best Picture marathon has arrived, crusaders. But what a finale this is. This journey ends among royalty (and those who aspire to royal proximity) in 18th century England with “The Favourite.”
In a world divided by class and defined by propriety, the adherence to certain social expectations, and, dare I say, rules (particularly for those who happen to be female). Yet, the three women of “The Favourite” manage to defy all expectations.
Lady Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz…and, yes, those Churchills), Queen Anne’s closest confidant and friend, stands toe to toe with the men in the room where matters of state are concerned. And by all appearances, seems to have been running the country at this point in history.
Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) herself, though often ridiculous, suffers no (other) fools and has no problem pitting them against each other either. She may be prone to flights of fancy and ignore her own limitations, but who is anyone to tell a queen how to best live her life?
Finally, there’s Lady Sarah’s cousin, Abigail (Emma Stone), who has been born into far worse circumstances than her kin. However, she is determined to improve her station by any means necessary and will make no apologies for it.
The combination of Olivia Colman as Queen Anne, Rachel Weisz as Lady Sarah Churchill (yes, those Churchills), and Emma Stone as Abigail is absolute magic (and a solid argument for why everyone should see this movie all on its own). This triad is less amorous and more a combination of suspicion, convenience, respect, and incredible wit.
Of course, although the circumstances often teeter on the brink of bizarre, what this film has that most true farces do not is three-dimensional female characters. Yes, they may be plotting against each other, but not one of them is just one thing. Anne may be silly, but she’s also sweet, insecure, and tragic. Lady Sarah is ruthless, but she’s also unconditionally devoted to her friend, Anne. And even Abigail who is, “capable of much unpleasantness,” also embodies remarkable resilience.
Perhaps the most incredible part of this farcical romp is that it is (by most accounts) very much rooted in fact. I’ll pause while you consider the fact that 18th-century women were kicking ass (sometimes their own…Abigail) and taking names like nobody’s business. This foundation of facts grounds the heightened realities of this film, allowing it to soar to new heights.