FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2018 -- In 2017, director Stephen Frears brought us "Victoria and Abdul" about Queen Victoria's relationship with an Indian whose companionship she enjoyed. Her husband had died and high society England...for the most part...looked the other way; thought they didn't care for the way she granted him title and name. It was a mostly true story with some dramatic license.


Now director Yorgos Lanthimos (previously with "The Lobster") casts British actress Olivia Colman as a suffering Queen Anne who has moments of insanity due to her ongoing bout with gout. Her husband has did and all 17 of her children died either prior to birth of shortly thereafter. In the film (though this is not true) she has replaced those dead children with 17 rabbits.


Her companion, unlike Victoria's Abdul, is a a woman of title - Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) who is married to Lord Marlborough (Mark Gatiss) who in turn is conveniently conducting war against the French. [Historically that would be the War of the Spanish Succession and French and Indian War between 1702 and 1713.] Sarah is in the ear of the Queen to continue the war. She is secretly in other parts of the queen as they carried on as lovers.

Out of the blue comes Abigail (Emma Stone) who is formerly a woman of title but lost it when her gambling father killed himself leaving her to fulfill his debts with her body. Her connection to Sarah is as her cousin, hence Sarah giving her a very low level job with the maids.


But Abilgail soon finds favor with the queen when she provides an herbal balm to relieve the pain from the gout. And, she too provides the Queen with vaginal relief which elevates her position with the queen and competition for Sarah.


The repartee between the women is sharp, witty and perfectly delivered leading to a surprisingly humorous period piece comedy. And while Stone and Weisz deliver delightful performances, this stage belongs to Colman who finally gets a role that demonstrates her acting abilities. She flits between insanity, confusion and easily manipulated to a not-so-inept decision maker.


As with most European monarchy periods pieces, Sandy Powell's costuming stands as a constant supporting member. The wigs are hilariously over powdered as are the fops who wear them. Queen Anne's wardrobe is extravagant as are all the get-ups. This all balances out with the profanity the ladies toss about.


Keep in that this is far from the actual history, but it wasn't that far off. Much like Armando Iannucci's "The Death of Stalin" there is an huge amount of truth buried in that humor.


"The Favourite" is a hilarious period piece that may well make a lot of noise during the awards season. The acting is delightful and the costumes and sets very well presented.   -- GRADE A-  --   GEOFF BURTON