WICKEDLY FUNNY “THE FAVOURITE” DOMINATES 2019 ACADEMY AWARDS OPENS FEBRUARY 20 EXCLUSIVE AT AYALA MALLS CINEMAS
Bagging the most nominations in major categories in this year’s Academy Awards, “The Favourite” vies for Best Picture, Best Director (Yorgos Lanthimos), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Olivia Colman), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best in Costume Design, Best in Film Editing and Best in Production Design. “The Favourite” stars a pool of strongly talented cast led by Olivia Colman along with Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Nicholas Hoult and Joe Alwyn that brings us to the much-overlooked period of British monarchy during Queen Anne’s (Colman) reign, the last of the Stuart line of rulers, has perhaps in history has been unfairly dismissed.
As Britain wars with France, in the Queen’s court the absurdities of palace life run rife. Gout-ridden and beset by grief over the loss of no fewer than 17 children, Anne relies on her only confidant, Lady Sarah Churchill (Weisz), who keeps the Privy Purse and offers much more than guidance in the matters of state. Her relationship with the Queen is as intimate as it comes, but when she introduces her downtrodden cousin, Abigail Hill (Stone), to court, she soon discovers a rival for Anne’s affections, and so begins a struggle for power and love that might threaten the monarchy itself.
Meanwhile, orbiting these three women are the men who perhaps expected to be in charge, including Robert Harley (Hoult) the Tory leader of the opposition who misreads Abigail as a pawn to force his agenda, and Samuel Masham (Alwyn), the handsome nobleman who finds himself inextricably drawn to Abigail’s charms.
Like most, Colman had been unfamiliar with the story of Queen Anne. “The film is surprisingly accurate, because it does feel so far away from what we know to be period drama,” she notes. “But in a way, it’s less about the history of the piece as it is about this woman who has lost all these children, and her love for these other women. Anne displays every emotion, good and bad. Every trait. It’s great to play somebody who does so many things.”
Weisz, too, came to the film with little knowledge of the period. “Anne has been misunderstood and misrepresented – possibly by male historians – but she had more nous and political savvy and strength than has been credited to her previously.” Through Lanthimos’s lens, Weisz immediately saw an opportunity to offer something fresh to the genre. “What’s interesting is they’re in competition with each other, but there’s love, there’s envy, there’s rivalry. There’s a cliché in cinema of women being bitchy to one another, and this film plays with that, but it goes way beyond it, because what you discover is that there’s a real love story between the Queen and Lady Sarah. It’s not quite Casablanca but there’s a real, real love there.”
From Fox Searchlight Pictures/20th Century Fox, “The Favourite” will open February 20 exclusive at Ayala Malls Cinemas – Glorietta 4, Alabang Town Center, Trinoma and Ayala Center Cebu. Check www.sureseats.com to book tickets in advance.
EMMA STONE IN THE MIDST OF A ROYAL LOVE TRIANGLE IN AWARD-WINNING “THE FAVOURITE”
Reimagining period films for today’s audience, the multi-awarded “The Favourite” directed by Yorgos Lanthimos breaks the tropes in the genre as it introduces the audience into Queen Anne’s (Olivia Colman) unusual reign, England’s least known ruler who has suffered from health problems throughout her life. By the time she became Queen in 1702, she was already stricken with gout, leading to a largely sedentary lifestyle and subsequent overall decline in her health.
Lady Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) and Abigail Masham (Emma Stone) are the two women who made their way deep into Anne's inner sanctum that created a triumvirate of female power-players uncommon for any time period, let alone in the so-called days of pre-Enlightenment.
Churchill is a legendarily sharp and alluring Duchess of Marlborough, Anne's BFF since childhood who, once Anne took the throne, became a primary political adviser and perhaps (according to rumors that have swirled for centuries) her lover. The second was Abigail Masham (Emma Stone), who was Sarah's cousin by birth who joined the royal household as a lowly maid. Nevertheless, Abigail would set in motion an epic, impassioned battle with Sarah to become Anne's new "favourite," making herself indispensable to the Queen, while pushing Anne in the opposite political direction that Lady Sarah was pulling.
The bones of the story in “The Favourite” come to life with a psychological and sensual resonance that escaped the history books. It started with a screenplay by Deborah Davis, which producer Ceci Dempsey started developing two decades ago. Davis had a wide canvas to work with from a historical standpoint, but felt compelled to focus on specific relationships in the brief but tumultuous reign of Queen Anne. "My focus was on the female triangle in Queen Anne's bedchamber and this shift in Anne's affections from Sarah to Abigail," notes Davis. While a vivid picture of Sarah has been painted by her own memoir, "the original evidence for Abigail is sparse and comes mainly from Sarah," says Davis, adding "there were interesting snippets to be found elsewhere where Abigail emerges as a ruthless chambermaid, and her trajectory clearly reveals her ambition."
It was this human drama that attracted Emma Stone. “I loved the three women in the story, the way they interacted with one another,” she remembers. “That there are three really beautifully crafted females at the center of this story still remains rare in film scripts," she points out. "The way they are each so flawed, so hilarious and so very complicated, I love that. It's just reflective of real life." Stone joined with Colman and Weisz for a 3-week period before production, during which they developed both a rapport and the openness they would need before the cameras. Recalls Stone, "We got to know each other so well and trust each other in those three weeks. I think it created a certain dynamic between us and also with Yorgos himself where we were ready for whatever might happen, which was so important on a film like this."
A Fox Searchlight/20th Century Fox feature film, “The Favourite” will open February 20 exclusive at Ayala Malls Cinemas – Glorietta4, The 30th, Alabang Town Center, Trinoma, U.P. Town Center, Ayala Center Cebu and Abreeza Davao.