Laura Sighs’s review published on Letterboxd:
Yorgos Lanthimos knows how to give me drama, a cackle, the type of sarcastic banter I desire at least once a week and great dialogue placement of the word “cunt” (more on that later)...
Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) is a hot mess. She suffers from gout, she appears to be depressed, despondent most times and constantly seeking the attention and affection of those she desires. I’m not sure she’s in love with Lady Sarah. She clearly doesn’t love herself and is siphoning off the admiration of Sarah and Abigail to placate her. In a way it’s sad, because everyone deserves love but in another way it’s completely preposterous for her to believe she is in a state where someone would be pursuing her without any ulterior motives. She reigns over Great Britain in the 18th century and has power, wealth and influence but takes no care at all to wield it on her own volition. The scene of her stuffing her face with cake until she pukes and then proceeding to power through and continue inhaling it was an over exaggeration of just how pitiful she allowed herself to become. Lady Sarah tells the Queen right at the beginning - “Love has its limits” and the Queen rebuttals with “It shouldn’t”. In that small statement I felt the Queen wanted to have love with the least amount of effort and sacrifice. She wanted to throw money and transference of power to Sarah and in return demand sex, a dutiful companion and an enamored stupor whenever she was present. This isn’t to say I don’t have empathy for her - or believe that everyone shouldn’t want someone who is “all in” but in the parameters of the film it was hard to feel really anyone was deserving of what they beseeched from others.
Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) definitely didn’t love the Queen. She was fueled by the dominion of being the silent ruler of the land. She made the decisions, whispered into Queen Anne’s ear and kept anyone who would oppose her at bay and far from her majesty’s view. She tells Queen Anne towards the end “I will never lie to you and that is love.” Well Sarah in a way - yes, yes it is love. Sometimes we have to hear uncomfortable things from the people we hold most dear and then and only then do we consider snapping out of it or committing to action. But any honesty she told the Queen was to split her brain in half. She would supply and withdraw love like a play toy held over a kitten. She gave the Queen just enough to long for her and be satisfied with Sarah calling the shots but enough coldness to keep the Queen in check for fear if she pushed Lady Sarah too far she would lose her forever.
Abigail (Emma Stone) came in with a PLAN 👏🏽. Talk about started from the bottom now we here...she loses everything as the result of her father’s poor decision making and is prepared to crawl through mud, beg and plot her way back into elite status. Initially I’m on Abigail’s side but the more I watched - the more I detached. She professes herself “As it turns out I’m capable of quite unpleasantness” and it’s as if she can’t believe how far she’s fallen from trying to get what she wants in a fair and honest way. Shoutout again to Yorgos as I don’t know if this was intentional but Abigail’s eyes turned dark as her sinisterness grew.
I was the only person of color at the theater I went to and the place was packed but the audience was bleh. I honestly don’t know if any of them knew what they were getting into based on the crickets I heard around me. When Harley tells Abigail that Masham is “bloody cuntstruck” by her I came completely undone. I wasn’t even laughing loud and I saw eyes staring at me in horror that I would find that phrase funny. I knew then this audience didn’t research accordingly and was quite pleased to be the only one laughing...after all - I am a honorable lady, and it was the right thing to do. 👑