"As it turns out, I'm capable of much unpleasantness." This is The Favourite. This period film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara. In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend, Lady Sarah, governs the country in her stead. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.
Davis had written the script for the film as early as 1998, which she had then titled The Balance of Power. It then captured the interest of producer Ceci Dempsey got ahold of an early draft of the script. However, Dempsey had difficulty securing financing at the time, due to the lesbian content and the lack of male representation, which financers felt would be challenging to market. Almost a decade later, producer Ed Guiney got hold of the script and was similarly attracted to the complicated plot and relationships of the three women. During this time, Guiney became acquainted with Lanthimos, and approached him with the prospect of directing the film. Lanthimos immediately became intrigued with the idea. Lanthimos brought on McNamara for rewrites. Lanthimos cited Possession (1981), Cremator (1969), Cries and Whispers (1972), Amadeus (1984) and The Draughtsman's Contract (1982) as inspirations. In September 2015, it was announced that Lanthimos would direct the film. By late March 2017, Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult, and Mark Gatiss had rounded out the cast. At the same time, Filming finally began, and wrapped in May, lasting forty-five days. Location included Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, and Hampton Court Palace, Richmond upon Thames. With a budget of $15 million, the film was shot mostly with available sunlight or practical lighting, such as candles and fireplaces. Filming was expected to begin in the spring of 2016, but was pushed back a year, during which time Lanthimos made The Killing of a Sacred Deer. In addition, most of the costumes and wigs were made from scratch, and could not be rented. The early 18th century is rarely depicted on film, so few costume houses had much appropriate stock available. Clothes and wigs were custom built, then deconstructed and re-used in other scenes. Costume designer Sandy Powell intentionally used anachronistic fabrics. Laser-cut lace and vinyl was used for many courtiers' clothes. The servants' dresses and britches are made from denim recycled from thrift store jeans from throughout England. Queen Anne's dressing gown is made from a chenille blanket that Powell found on eBay.
The film stars Colman, Stone, Weisz, Hoult, and Gatiss. The cast terrific performances, especially Colman, Stone, and Weisz who gave the most fascinating female triangle ever put to film. Not only that, their performances left me haunted by their passions, their survival instincts, their manipulations and what they did to survive.