In our lord 20-gay-teen, there have been a number of Oscar baity queer dramas, like The Happy Prince, Lizzie and Disobedience. But none have been quite as enjoyable or gay as this year’s crown jewel, The Favourite.
In early 18th century England, screechy lady baby Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) is in the middle of war with France. In poor health and with no knowledge of politics, she depends on her close confidant and secret lover, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) to govern the country. When Sarah’s cousin, former aristocrat, Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives as a new servant, she begins to charm her way into the queen’s good graces. As Sarah is preoccupied with the war, Abigail manipulates her way into taking her place as Anne’s favorite.
Period dramas tend to either be stale or bodice rippers, but The Favourite is more of an absurdist dark comedy that feels fresh. The dialogue is deliciously catty and back biting as everyone is using each other to get ahead. Weisz is a boss as she marches around shooting birds dressed as a gay pirate. Stone is charming as usual as my second favorite queer devious maid after Kristen Stewart in Lizzie. I do love Abigail’s stony glare as she gives sinister handjobs. But it’s Colman who is on her A-game the whole movie. Her character is comically whiny and insecure, but she brings a vulnerability to the role that keeps it grounded.
Also did I mention it’s gay? SO GAY! From bitchy leader of the opposition, Harley (Nicholas Hoult in Liberace drag) to the 18th century vogueing scene, to Elton John singing “Skyline Pigeon” during the credits, it’s full on camp. While the queen is discrete about her sapphic affairs, it calls to mind that quote from Colette when the titular character’s boyfriend remarks that the upper class have certain privileges that commoners don’t.
With that sentiment, I was rooting for Abigail to win. It’s refreshing to watch a film with female characters who are unapologetic about their ambition, however malevolent their intentions. Like Abigail’s hapless suitor, Masham (Joe Alwyn), the men are merely pawns in a game run by women. Too bad the studio didn’t choose a female director.
Header image credit: Fox Searchlight