I really enjoyed our screening on Saturday night for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was a lovely social occasion. Using our new patio rather than the grass (when the numbers permit !) provides a slightly more sophisticated air to the proceedings, which was fitting for a farewell to (almost) regular Barrie who was making her last visit before heading off to Florida (Best Wishes and Good Luck !) and a welcome to our friend Victor for his first visit, along with newcomers Cherise and Simon.
Secondly, the film was excellent, and bore out my theory that the second viewing offers so much more insight and appreciation than can be got from the first, where assimilation of the story and plot points occupies much of your attention. The proof of this is that despite three fine actresses pulling out all the stops in what is, essentially, a theatrical three-hander, Olivia Colman's performance dominates - she is staggeringly good, and makes me wonder why anyone considered Glenn Close might sneak the Oscar for Best Actress. Close, but really nowhere near close...
Queen Anne is essentially a tragic figure. Whilst her achievements as monarch are often underestimated by history, her personal life was full of illness, loneliness and tragedy. She had vision problems from an early age, she had seventeen pregnancies but of her five live-born children, four died by the age of two. She suffered terribly from gout, which made her largely immobile in later life, and contributed to her becoming obese and even more unhealthy. She relied on the counsel of Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, but was often sidelined and even bullied. The pain, frustration and emotional anguish of all this is captured in Colman's performance and on her expressive face, which flits from grimace to giggle to frown to anger right on cue.
The most heard comment after the movie on Saturday was 'well, that was a bit weird' which in itself is praise for Yorgos Lanthimos. To have one of his works consider only 'a bit weird' defines it as positively mainstream - which is only to be expected because surprisingly enough, the historical basis for the events in the plot are all pretty much accurate, or established contemporary rumours. I think that having a solid factual framework on which to build his surreal visual and linguistic pyrotechnics has enabled Lanthimos to produce a candidate for the rating 'masterpiece' - even if I cannot explain the multi-lens image of rabbits which closed the film. Any suggestions ?