The Big Issue : Edition 576
50 THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 3–25 DEC 2018 NEVER TRUST APPEARANCES. Despite being a period film, Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest, The Favourite, is a mischievous Machiavellian romp that does away with civility. Opponents push rivals into ditches and down staircases; the Queen vomits, stomps and screams at children; and all at court partake in the spirited use of the c-word. “We were never going to try to be polite,” says Tony McNamara. The Australian co-wrote the film, taking Deborah Davis’ original script and developing it together with the celebrated Greek director over several years. “We wanted to make a period movie that was different. That was funny and dark – a tragicomedy – and that had a contemporary feel.” At the heart of The Favourite is a triangle of formidable women drawn from 18th-century British history. Having lost her husband and 17 children (12 of them stillborn), Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) is a depressed and gout-ridden ruler, who finds comfort in her childhood sweetheart and astute political advisor, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz). Sarah’s favoured position is troubled by the arrival at court of her destitute cousin Abigail (Emma Stone), who spies an opportunity and sneaks into the royal bed sheets. While the wigged men joust feebly in the background, the repercussions of the women’s antics resound across England. “Immediately from reading the original script, I felt it was a unique story in the way that it was three women who at some point in history had such power,” says Lanthimos. “It was intimate, and it was about their needs and aspirations – but at the same time their personal story affected a whole country and the state of a war.” A pas de trois of powerplays and zingy one-liners, the film’s dynamism comes from the complexity of its richly drawn leads. Going beyond the Hollywood cliché of the Strong Female Character, all three are kick-ass, deeply flawed and Yorgos Lanthimos’ right royal romp The Favourite is shaping up to be the, well, favourite this awards season. Battle Royale RACHEL WEISZ AS LADY SARAH, POLITICAL ADVISOR. EMMA STONE AS THE POOR COUSIN, ABIGAIL.