Stars: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult, Mark Gattis
Greek director Lanthimos’s third English-language picture, a rollicking and bawdy period piece set in the early 18thcentury, sports more than a whiff of Peter Greenaway’s poised surrealism. The ever estimable Colman is Queen Anne. Partially, due to the pressures of the war with France, she is in poor health and almost completely reliant on her calculating friend Lady Sarah (Weisz), who uses her singular influence on the monarch to further the career of her husband Lord Marlborough (Gattis). Lady Sarah’s position is threatened however with the arrival of her impoverished cousin Abigail (Stone doing a credible English accent) who works her way up from lowly scullery maid to being a trusted confidant of Queen Anne. A bitter ‘All About Eve’-style power play ensues, with the drama broken down into eight chapters with darkly droll titles such as ‘This Mud Stinks’ and ‘I Dreamt I Stabbed You in the Eye’. Technically the film is a marvel with sumptuous and witty costume design from Sandy Powell, while cinemaphotographer Robbie Ryan’s deployment of distorted angles and wide angle lens to emphasize the size of the cavernous ornate rooms is as disorienting as it is striking. The real draw is to witness three excellent actors clearly relishing their juicy roles and crackling dialogue. They’re all great but special mention must go to Colman who manages to summon up pathos for the rabbit-obsessed Queen Anne, even when her character is at her most capricious.