Elle Fanning Shines in the Vividly Absurd Historical Romp The Great: Review


"He did not have an entirely bad heart," Catherine the Great wrote of her wastrel husband, Czar Peter III, "but a weak man usually does not."

That was her nice way of saying he was pitiable as well as disposable. She assumed the Russian throne through a coup in 1762.

The Great, a satirical romp about her rise was created by The Favourite screenwriter Tony McNamara, has a similar tone to that film: vividly absurd, occasionally disgusting, sometimes puzzling.

With her porcelain beauty and air of sulky intelligence, Elle Fanning is pretty great in the title role.

Fanning, 22, previously said that while viewers will certainly learn about Catherine the Great while watching, the goal was to be entertaining rather than strictly historically accurate.

"We're not here trying to give a history lesson to anyone, but there are elements in each episode that are true, slightly based on what Catherine did," she told Variety.

Some of the absurdities we mentioned? Moments from her sex scenes with costar Nicholas Hoult.

"We always wanted to make the scene funnier or better. For the good of the scene, we were trying to go for it. That was a big thing for me because it's a comedy," she told the outlet. "I'm not used to comedies where it's a specific rhythm and there are jokes. I had to learn to not be embarrassed. Throughout the months of filming, my walls kind of went down to be able to not be as embarrassed with myself."

The Hulu original series, also starring Phoebe Fox and Louis Hynes, is streaming now.

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