Yes, especially in the movies, 2019 is going to be the year of the woman; and in director Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite,” all three leading women are wonderfully dark, complicated and deliciously queer. When you’re introduced to the men, in the most outrageous and stunning adornments the 18th-century Ralph Lauren designers can provide, you’ll understand why. Of course, there isn’t one real alpha male in the powdered and bewigged pompous prancers in Lanthimos’ early 18th century.

Let me caution you, dear viewer; “The Favourite” is the darkest of dark comedies.

All three of the leading ladies — Rachel Weisz as the princess of darkness, Lady Sarah Churchill; Emma Stone as her visiting cousin Abigail, described in history books as “Lady of the Bed Chamber”; and oh, my Lord, the screen-busting presence of Olivia Colman as a female Charles Laughton kind of Queen Anne.

The maidens three dance through all the ballroom misogyny and drawing room hypocrisy like sensuous ballerinas, barely giving us a chance to regain our breath before we’re shocked back into gasping for air at what comes down the stairs next. “Favourite” is not a Christmas movie, but it is a Christmas gift.

They are, these Lanthimos ladies, as Lady Caroline Lamb once said about Lord Byron, “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” Each has a plan to ascend to a higher, more comfortable station in life.

The queen, who spends her days and nights moaning and screaming, moving from bed to wheelchair, is ailing with some kind of disfiguring skin disease on her legs, to which Lady Sarah spends her days tending with strange bandages that look like large slabs of bison bacon.


History records Sarah’s words about Anne as “she grew exceeding gross and corpulent. There was something of majesty in her look, but mixed with a gloominess of soul.” That says it all.

Then Abigail arrives on the scene, blessed with some strange knowledge of herbs and ointments found foraging in the woods, which seems to work. Bang! She is now in the crazy queen’s good graces, and eventually, her midnight bed.

Is any of this true? History says it is, but it doesn’t matter, it’s what my mother called “a hoot.”

Each player, from the stars to the lowliest kitchen worker and stable boy, is a casting gem.

Writers Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara deliver in a superb script, nonstop, the greatest and most startling one-liners we’ve been deprived of all these many months.

Lanthimos masterfully puts his players in the right spots, dresses them in gorgeous light, puts Robbie Ryan’s camera to work and steps back, letting them all do what they were hired to do. That’s directing.

It must be noted that Sandy Powell’s costumes are historically perfect and astounding.

Who knew that Weisz could ride and dance like that, or that Stone could be so diabolical, and Colman so unleashed? Each of them may never again have as much fun, and neither will you.

J.P. Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and film actor.

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