It’s 18th Century England. War rages with France. But there is a bigger battle royale unravelling in the court of the declining Queen Anne (Colman): a fight between her loyal counsel Sarah Churchill (Weisz) and new arrival Abigail (Stone), Sarah’s down-on-her-luck cousin. Empire
Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone deliver incredible performances throughout this zany, wonderfully filmed movie. The use of wide lense gives a really unique perspective. It is a great privilege to be alive in a time where cameras are of such high quality. I was especially taken aback by the pomegranate throwing scene. Combining slow motion with high definition; nudity and fruit certainly makes one sit up and take notice.
A word which appeared repeatedly in my mind throughout the film is ‘spellbinding’. Each scene featuring Coleman and her drastic realisations left me aghast. Equally, the script featured some truly memorable and shockingly filthy quotes, which I could not repeat on this blog. Some of them are featured in the trailer below.
The Favourite follows a delicate relationship between Queen Anne (Coleman); her advisor,Sarah Churchill (Weisz) and Abigail Masham (Stone). Churchill and Masham are both vying for her attention. Churchill does so to further the war effort with France. This acts as a backdrop to the main narrative tool; Anne’s deteriorating condition as a result of gout. Masham’s attempt at garnering the Queen’s favour stems from desiring a more elevated status. The intertwining complex characters add a richness to the story which is supported by stellar performances.
The Favourite [is] unrelentingly physical; characters fall in mud, are splattered with blood, vomit, have Sapphic sex (never exploitative), get dragged behind horses and deliver a swift kick in the balls. Empire
In all, I was deeply impressed by this film. My learned friend Emily, who works in film publicity, claims the film suffers from a chronic pacing problem. Indeed, as I find often in the modern movie, there is an extra half hour of content which is simply unnecessary. Other than that, this is a compelling film which covers a lecherous and important period in Queen Anne’s life. I recommend it most highly.
A terrific New Statesman article on the historical accuracy of the events in the film can be found here.