There are rivalries, small and huge. The kid in class who always seemed to be getting one desk closer to the space you wanted up to the colleague who always seems to get the job that comes with the better office. There are grudges held, from refusing to sit next to somebody on the school bus to skipping the company holiday party. There are paybacks, from snarky social media comments to starting new businesses.
And then there is the relationship between cousins Lady Sarah and the newly arrived Abigail in The Favourite. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos from a screenplay by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, this devilish period piece set in the palace of Queen Anne in the early 1700s days of the war between Britain and France examines a relationship so steeped in competition that even the monarch herself becomes another piece on the board.
We begin with Abigail coming back to the family after a dramatic fall. She was born a lady, but her drunken father gambled away not only the family status but the virtue of his teen daughter.
Her cousin Sarah, now the top server for the Queen, accepts the muddy family member into the big place, but only as a scrubber of floors as such.
Let the plotting begin.
This is a movie of major moves by the women. Sarah and Abigail are cunning, bold, beautiful and unafraid to make the most of all of above. Rachel Weisz as the established Lady and Emma Stone as the ambitious newcomer tackle the roles with gusto. The Queen, meanwhile, struggles with failing health and a mercurial mental state. She rides a see-saw on the battle between the cousins. Olivia Colman handles this deep role with aplomb.
All of them use the men in the kingdom (and the movie) as bit players. The war rages, politicians roar, the palace is gorgeous, baroque music thunders.
As they move from square to square under the direction of Lanthimos, things get almost as odd as they did in his delicious smaller movie, The Lobster.
And, oh, how these women unleash their bawdy side.
The full small theater at a 7:15 Friday night showing at the Regal Cinemas complex in Syracuse mega shopping, dining and entertainment complex Destiny USA soaked in rawness of it all: eccentricity, lavishness, lust, ambition, greed, and, oh, yes, sadness.