The Favourite, a movie that is loosely based on historical fact, was always going to generate a big reaction at the Venice Film Festival.
Olivia Colman plays the frail and slightly unhinged early 18th century British monarch, Queen Anne, who jostles with two woman in a power struggle in her court as they vye for her sexual favour. Lady Sarah, the Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz), whose husband is away fighting the French, is effectively running the country. But when her conniving cousin the Queen’s new servant Sarah (Emma Stone) arrives, the naïve monarch is seduced by her charms.
For a second time this year Weisz has a woman-on-woman love scene after Disobedience with Rachel McAdams, while the film marks a follow-up too for Oscar winner Stone after her portrayal as Billie Jean King in Battle of the Sexes.
At The Favourite’s Venice press conference, the usually hilarious Colman (The Night Manager) was asked about the sexual politics in the historical film, to which she replied, “There was a lot of it!”
“That aspect of the film is timeless. We think we invented sex but we didn’t. It’s been going on for quite a long time. It was awfully fun having sex with Emma Stone.”
“It was really fun having sex with you too,” Stone quipped.
In the film, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer starring Nicole Kidman) Stone plays an educated aristocrat who has lost her status and will do anything to get it back. At the age of 15 her father lost her to a fat German with a thin penis in card game. She may be devious but she’s not evil, says Stone.
“She’s overcome a lot, she’s a survivor. I loved every element of getting to play her. In terms of the challenges for me I was the only American in the cast, so it was a bit daunting trying to make sure that the accent made sense. The corsets were a challenge too just because you can’t breathe all day.
“The whole cast had this three-week rehearsal process before we started shooting and it was far from traditional. We did a whole bunch of crazy stuff. We had to learn to be embarrassed in front of each other and rely on each other. I think by the time we were shooting we all felt very close and comfortable. When I had to have sex with the Queen, with Olivia, it was very comfortable. We were very good friends.”
I asked Colman, who is playing Queen Elizabeth in season three of The Crown, about playing two queens in one year.
“They’re not very similar,” she deadpanned, “and that’s good. We’ve started filming on The Crown and I’m having a lovely time, so I hope I don’t let you down when it comes out. I can’t really compare the two queens. I don’t think Queen Elizabeth learned anything from Queen Anne!”
I then suggested that the heavily bewigged Nicholas Hoult, whose brilliant blue eyes are offset by a stunning Sandy Powell royal blue costume, and Joe Alwyn (otherwise known as Taylor Swift’s beau) were playing women as well.
“It was fabulous!” replied Hoult.
Colman: “I just want to give you a visual of Nick who is 6’ 2” with heels and a foot and a half of wig! None of us could look at him when we were acting because it was just too funny.”
Alwyn added, “It was a lot of fun running around in wigs, in high heels and in fancy costumes. It’s every man’s dream!”
While the film’s story delves into the power that the three women held as they made decisions on a whim that could effect millions of people, can it also be seen as a statement about women’s empowerment post MeToo#?
“Obviously I don’t mind that idea, but we can’t take credit because we started the project many years ago,” Lanthimo replied. “I think the positive aspect of this film is that it focuses on three female characters, which is rare. But what we tried to do is portray them as human beings, because most of the time, given the prevalent male gaze in cinema, women are portrayed as housewives or girlfriends or objects of desire. So we tried to show them as complex and complicated, wonderful and horrific. They are like every other human being.”
Alice is a physicist working at CERN. Her sister Jenny is the kind of Google-trained, self-proclaimed “expert” who chain smokes but distrusts diet coke and worries that vaccines cause autism. Lucy Kirkwood’s latest play, following the excellent Chimerica, pits them against each other, in a grudge match of reason vs emotion that ranges from the risk of ultrasounds to the potential destruction of the universe at the hands of meddling scientists.
Both characters are deeply flawed, and it’s commendable to see portrayals of people who have suffered personal tragedies being forced to confront their actions rather than be coddled as helpless victims. The dialogue and acting are strong throughout, especially from Olivia Williams (Alice) and Broadchurch star Olivia Colman (Jenny) as the sisters. Their opening scene is a spectacular argument on the merits of facts over parental instincts, and is hilarious and moving to boot.
Colman in particular shines as an unsympathetic and tactless pseudoscience advocate, who nonetheless at times displays more emotional intelligence than anyone else in the play. A special mention should also go to Paul Hilton, who plays Alice’s estranged partner, a brilliant but unhinged physicist listed in the credits simply as “The Boson”. His monologues on the wonder of scientific discovery, fused with the visceral panic of experiencing mental breakdown, are sensational.
It’s quick-witted and thought-provoking, with a phenomenal set that at times resembles an intimate planetarium. It’s a shame, then, that there are too many competing plotlines and themes, which resolve towards the end in an unsatisfactorily forced conclusion. At crucial moments of tension, competing threads detract from the main story, with fresh crises looming before the audience has had time to properly process the last.
This is, at its core, a play about science, and how we talk about science. It’s about the way we all misunderstand risk, distrust experts, and dismiss those we consider too stupid to understand our own reasoning. When the play focuses on this, it’s a work of rare brilliance. The problems arise when it gets sidetracked by other themes: the challenges faced by women in technical fields, loss of agency in old age, children’s desire not to grow up like their parents, sibling rivalry, mental illness, motherhood, guilt. While these are all interesting topics, there just isn’t time to explore them properly.
Come for the acting, stay for debate on scientific communication, and try to forgive the convoluted plot.
Source: cityam.com – Mosquites at the National Theatre review
Alice is a scientist. She lives in Geneva.
As the Large Hadron Collider starts up in 2008, she’s on the brink of the most exciting work of her life – searching for the Higgs Boson. Jenny is her sister. She lives in Luton. She spends a lot of time Googling. When tragedy throws them together, the collision threatens them all with chaos.
How would you cope if your world was turned upside down? There’s the famous phrase that ‘blood is thicker than water’; that family is everything and they’ll always support each other. A notion pushed to its limits in Lucy Kirkwood’s spectacular new play at the NT. When the inconceivable happens within your own inner circle, how do you react and most of all – how do you cope?
Mosquitoes takes a raw and intimate look into the deepest parts of our lives and paints it beautifully for all to see. Oh, and if you like your physics, there’s a healthy dose of that in there too!
It’s not all quite so heavy, as Mosquitoes packs its fair share of comedy; often leaving us in stitches with witty one liners and sassy comebacks. It’s all so reminiscent of real life as therefore is instantly recognisable, which somewhat adds to the humour. The delicate juxtaposition of dark and angst immediately after hilarious comedy is beautifully executed.
Olivia Colman delivers a sensational performance as Lucy. Raw emotion emanating from every action, this allowed an incredibly powerful sensation to wash over the audience from her first moments on stage. Joseph Quinn’s portrayal of troubled teenager and genius Luke is equally as impressive throughout – some of the best scenes coming from fraught and awkward interactions between the pair.
Olivia Williams as Alice creates some of the finest scenes when battling her sister [Colman]. The sisterly bond is well and truly felt and is a testament to the tight knit they’ve formed. It’s all so believable.
Katrina Lindsay’s design is a marvel, managing to achieve maximum effect from a small space makes for some visually stunning scenes. The use of projection at such short range, including projecting onto the audience, is powerful.
Surrounded on all four sides by the audience, the small stage of the NT’s Dorfman Theatre feels noticeably intimate, even before the play starts. So close to the action, you feel almost as if you’re intruding on their lives; a powerless witness to the crashing of relationships right before your eyes.
Raw. Emotional. Poetic. Hilarious. We could continue with the adjectives for days, though the verdict is quite clear: tTis is one piece of theatre you don’t want to miss out on!
Gay Times gives Mosquitoes – 5/5
More information can be found here.
Tonight’s pilot episode of Channel 4’s dark new drama, Run, focused on one of four key characters, Carol Wheeler, played by Broadchurch star Olivia Colman, who is emotionally torn as to what do when she finds out her two sons have beaten a man to death – tell the police or protect her children?
Carol is a single mum who lives on an estate with her two unemployed sons, Dean and Terry. She scrapes together a living working in a factory whilst supplying illegal immigrant, Ying with electronics stolen from the factory in order to buy a flat-screen TV, to keep her Dean and Terry off the streets and out of trouble.
However, whilst physically assaulting his girlfriend on the estate one night, Dean noticed a passerby who was watching the violent events unfold and consequently beat him to death, whilst his brother, Terry, watched, leading to a full-scale police investigation.
At first, Carol’s two sons denied the murder, but as Carol grew increasingly suspicious and started to find clues, such as the victims blood on Dean’s hoody’s sleeve, she started to realise the truth. After finding her son’s girlfriend making out with another boy, Carol threatened to reveal she was cheating unless she told her what happened with her sons.
At first Carol protected her children by disposing of the blood-stained hoody but as time went by, she had second thoughts as the final scene saw Terry and Dean being arrested during a flat-raid.
Best Moment: Picking a ‘best moment’ from Run proves extremely difficult as the intense drama had us hooked from start to finish, But one scene in particular that we found particularly emotional was the final scene, in which Carol broke down in tears as police raided her flat and arrested her sons, as she sat crying at the kitchen table.
Random Moment: A particularly poignant yet endearing moment was when Carol hit the pub karaoke with her friend for drinks,and fake Gucci purse in hand. The pair sang True Colours together which was perhaps one of the only times in the episode where we saw Carol with a smile on her face.
Verdict: Undeniably one of the most compelling pilot episodes of any drama we’ve recently watched. The acting was faultless and the storyline is enthralling. This is a brutal yet realistic look into life on an estate and has Bafta written all over it
Well, if you know Olivia Colman, you know GOOD work! The above photo was taken tonight after the film and I was so thrilled to meet and chat with her.
Let me start by saying her performance in this film is OSCAR WORTHY!
The movie starts out very compelling, Joseph (Peter Mullan) coupled with rage and anger that you don’t really expect. The shear madness of it all will have you inching up in your seat just drooling wondering what will happen next!
Skip ahead to when we first see Hannah (Olivia Colman), you already can feel this character…she’s warm, loving, almost sacred-there can be nothing wrong with this child of God.
We find out later in the movie there is a lot of things wrong with Hannah. Namely, she is a victim of domestic abuse over and over and over. I can relate to her turmoil, not sure what to do, how to get away from it, making excuses and lying to your friends…it’s just a vicious cycle that we victims have gone through until we find the strength to leave. Which, by the way, she did leave-yeah!
There is a part in the movie where she is praying over Joseph’s father and you’d think she was a nun the way the words flowed, sounding so heavenly. The use of sound reduction in this particular scene works amazingly. Joseph’s eyes and the faint whisper of her voice in back of them…really well done!
The story continues and moves to happier times with Hannah and Joseph in a pub, celebrating the life of Joseph’s now deceased father. The joy that was forgotten in both their lives was brought seemingly back to life in those moments. Watching it, I reflected back to more care-free times in my life where I could enjoy a glass of wine with friends and just talk about anything, laugh about anything, no worries, all the world’s trouble’s forgotten. This scene hit the mark, I think a lot of people probably felt the same way watching it. If they didn’t, there’s something wrong with them.
When we reach the end of the movie, the twist of fate that occurs was just so unexpected for me. Inside, it made me want to scream and shout and cheer for Hannah, but at the same time I felt so sad for her. Joseph’s life will go on now, but with a sort of calm that only Hannah could provide.
If you want to know why the movie is named “Tyrannosaur” it will be revealed to you in the movie, I’m certainly not going to tell you! Go watch it!
Two Thumbs WAY Up!!
OSCAR WORTHY!!! You heard it here! OSCAR WORTHY!!!
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