In early 18th-century England, a frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne, and her closest friend, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), governs the country while tending to Anne's ill health and volatile temper. When new servant Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, Sarah takes Abigail under her wing as she cunningly schemes to return to her aristocratic roots, setting off an outrageous rivalry to become the Queen's favourite.
Too Clever For It's Own Good
- The Favourite review by JK
Watching this film is a bit like watching Russell Brand - very smarty-pants clever but deeply distasteful. It ticks all the boxes in terms of sublime setting, lighting, costumes, make up etc. etc. but then you would hope so given how much it cost to make. Every shot is perfectly framed. Every frame could be a Rembrandt or Vermeer painting.
The three women are all brilliant but not necessarily Oscar worthy. If you had absolutely nothing to do all day and were in constant pain you'd be snappy and contrary.
It demonstrated Court corruption and the ridiculousness of political debate really well but aside from a few smile-provoking quips it was hardly the 'comedy' it was cracked up to be in the run up to its release and subsequent hoo-ha about it's ten Oscar nominations. All the funny bits are in the trailer.
On another level it is terribly sad and the sheer tedium of Court life would drive anyone to murderous thoughts but it just leaves a bad taste in the mouth. And speaking of mouths - how come the incredibly realistic bodily functions, blood, gore, fat etc. were depicted perfectly for the period but everyone had brilliantly white teeth, given that they all appeared to live on cake?
It's a 'Marmite' movie - either you will love or hate it.....that's why I've given it an average star score. 'Just can't make up my mind.
19 out of 24 members found this review helpful.
Historically inaccurate, over-rated, box-ticking, 'politically correct' feminist fantasy drama
- The Favourite review by PV
I found the first hour of this film excruciatingly boring - I was watching the clock a lot. Then around the 1 hour mark, things pick up with the rivalry between the 2 'favourites'. From then on it's watchable.
Sarah Churchill who became Lady Marlborough (Queen Anne gave the lordship to her husband for his military and political duties, and Winston Churchill is from that line) DID in history fall out with the monarch and thus portrayed Anne badly in her memoirs. The falling out, however, was political and about money, NOT lesbian affairs of competition with other favourites. That is all pure fiction. It's MADE UP, folks!
But hey, make a movie about some old British monarch, give it a women-focused feminist slant, add a good dollop of lesbianism, and then add some illness/disability (miscarriages, gout, early 18th C wheelchairs) and you are guaranteed Oscar nominations. Queen Anne did have gout and get carried round in sedan chairs and in a wheelchair because it made her lame - she became very obese and depressive because of it too. That is fact.
BUT this film is not a patch on THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE (set 50-70 years later) or the brilliant THE KING'S SPEECH.
THE FAVOURITE is, in fact, rather a forgettable movie AND mostly fiction, which reflects our pc feminist #metoo age, not the historical reality of 300 years ago.
For the record, Queen Anne gave birth to 12 babies, 5 lived, most died under 2 years of age BUT one - William - lived till 11. The other 5 were miscarriages (half of all pregnancies end in miscarriage actually, most not even noticed).
There is NO historical record of any lesbian affair with a favourite or any poisoning or any rabbits or the rest - this is all from the imagination of the (female) author, no doubt keen to put women and women's concerns centre-stage in her script (which took 20 years to be filmed - it's now 'on trend' as is so female-focused, of course).
Yes, gambling was growing popular at the time. Yes, Queen Anne's 5 year reign was important because under her Great Britain was formed as a solely Protestant Christian nation which excluded Catholics (like Anne's deposed Papist father King James II - her sister was Mary, married to William of Orange, who ruled as WILLIAM AND MARY from the 1688 Glorious Revolution) and modern Tory-Whig politics developed. THAT is what is important - and maybe the furniture. Not fantasy lesbian romantic subplots.
And people did NOT use the word 'smart' to mean 'clever' in the early 18th century either. That is annoying. The language AND the female characters in this film are WAY too modern - it's like 'girl power' and post-1990s aggressive feminist women. They would NOT have behaved like that in the 18th century - or even 50 years ago! As per usual, the women are just TOO modern in looks and attitudes. And thus, not really believable as characters.
Thankfully, the diversity police have not riddled the cast with black actors, making it all unrealistic, though the number of black servants is overplayed and the sole black noblewoman I glimpsed is an absurdity - she would simply not have been there. It's a shame people who watch this will think they are watching documentary history. They are not, They are watching a Mills and Boon, feminist, made-up version of history to suit the 'politically correct' prejudices of our age.
To watch a brilliant movie set just before this in history, watch THE LION IN WINTER all about the development of the English Civil War and Charles I.
Worthy of Oscars? No. Except for costume design.
The music and credit design at the end is dreadful.
I have a lot of sympathy with JK's review, but I'm even harsher. It's beautifully shot but I just couldn't help but feel the film is pointless and weird. It's not really clear what you're supposed to take away from it. Yes it shows corruption and politics well but I think most viewers had a sense of how nuts it all was during the period anyway so I don't think the film adds any value there. We live in a golden age of film and television, so I would advise spending two hours of your life watching something more convincing.
9 out of 12 members found this review helpful.
Paper thin superficial plot but very modern
- The Favourite review by RD
Can't understand why this won so many awards.
The cinematography is poor, with soft focus and an over-use of extreme wide angle lenses than make everything curved and distorted. The shooting in low light gave the interior shots a natural balance, but unfortunately the daylight through windows produced so much flare they obliterated anything nearby in the shot.
The sound is good although there's not much use of the surround channels, and the music is painfully odd often with the same note squeaked out every few seconds, repetitively ad nauseam. It didn't add to any on-screen action.
The settings were fabulous, Hampton Court and Hatfield House looked magnificent, and the interior furnishings likewise. The acting also was good all round.
The real weak point was the screenplay. Very 21st century and streetwise, complete with break dancing (20th century) and some daft scenes that just appear to pad out the film and give some blood cells to the anaemic story.
The story? Whacky queen has ambitious and bossy aide, another aide appears and wins queens favour. Jealousy consumes aide number one. Film ends.
And - the film ends without any apparent resolution or development, it just looked like they ran out of money at that point, so they decided to suddenly knock it all on the head and get on with the post-production.
Prizes should be awarded to anyone who can read the credits. They have been designed by an intern in his school holidays, all geometric with capital letters everywhere so the spacing is extreme, resembling the alphabet available in the search function for the BBC iPlayer. Completely unreadable without going cross-eyed. Can you can make up other words diagonally if you pause the titles?
Maybe we have been spoilt - we watched Barry Lyndon a few weeks ago and perhaps it's raised our standards too high.
2 out of 4 members found this review helpful.
Overhyped but watchable
- The Favourite review by Alphaville
This is a skewed take on Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) and her court in the early eighteenth century, complete with “scenes of a sexual nature”, as they say on TV. She’s frail and irascible, while her favourite Rachel Weisz runs affairs… until maid Emma Stone comes along. It’s as well made as any English heritage drama, with an added quirkiness that makes it constantly watchable. The dancing, for instance, is more Pulp Fiction than Jane Austen. Colman won an Oscar for her showy role, but if it’s an acting piece you’re after, there are more arresting performances here, especially Nicholas Hoult as the foppish leader of the opposition.
Film lovers will relish the “making of” short on the DVD Xtras. Director Yorgos Lanthimos explains how he uses wide angle and deep focus to give the picture a painterly look, and how he distorts the frame by using a convex lens. And yet… it all adds up to an historical drama that never gives us anyone to root for, never engages the emotions and fails to linger in the memory as anything other than a curiosity.
The three ladies are very solid right through the film. The set shots/rooms are first rate. The historic skeleton is pretty accurate, according to the experts.....with some innuendo woven in as storyline of course.
Should be a 5, at least a 4, but the odd swing into objectionable-behaviour-for-the-hell-of-it, and the vaguely comic undertow.....plus the super good teeth....makes a solid 3.5
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.
Brilliant and Beautiful
- The Favourite review by Champ
This film garnered excellent reviews on its original release, and I can really see why. Firstly, it looks absolutely beautiful - every frame looks like an Old Master. The period music and general soundscape also contributes to the brilliant period effect. In some way, the combination of visuals and soundscape reminded me of Peter Greenaway's The Draughtman's Contract. But unlike that film, this has a distinct narrative arc, that in places almost felt like a thriller - I was gripped as the story unfolded.
The three main characters are all brilliantly portrayed, and I felt my sympathies wax and wane between them as the story progressed. The dialogue is sharp and funny too, and the actors all relish it.
I'm very surprised by the number of negative reviews on here, as I would have expected people to understand what they'd be getting with a Yorgos Lanthimos film before they ordered it. Anyway, suffice to say it met and exceeded my expectations, and I'm very happy to recommend it.
Cinematography - looking through a goldfish bowl didn't work for me
Music - mind numbingly appalling
Through some of the scenes there is a 2 tone noise that does nothing to add to atmosphere, it just makes you want to scream. Not sure what the director wanted to achieve by this but if it was to have people shouting 'make it stop' then he achieved his aim.
Coleman, Weisz and Stone put in stellar performances but let down by a director who wanted to turn this art-house.
TYPICAL OSCAR FODDER
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.
What was it FOR?
- The Favourite review by Mehitabel
But what were we supposed to take away? Ageing and unwell queen bestows capricious favour first on one woman, then on a different one and then back and forth a bit. And.....? Well, and nothing. There's no plot to speak of. You're not waiting for any resolution because you know from the start there won't be one. It's rather as if a Mediaeval monk had spent hours illuminating the border of a page, then forgotten to include the text.
And while I'm a huge Olivia Colman fan, and while her speciality of "mumsy hang-dog" works a treat in some scenes, never have I watched anyone so badly mis-costumed; she should have been wearing a t-shirt reading "Gimme an Oscar!" Though in fairness, it can't be easy to act the symptoms of a stroke. By the end, though, I found "Mrs Morley"'s petulance and flip-flop moods (which change within seconds) simply tiresome and irritating. I was rather wishing she would die. Which is the fault of whichever frightfully-clever person(s) wrote and directed.
If you want to see some lavish historical settings and costumes, and three women vying for the title Most Powerful Actorrr, give this a spin. If you want story, enlightenment or food for thought, go elsewhere.
0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.
Bizarre, but worth viewing
- The Favourite review by PC
After seeing the film previews, I was expecting a comedic drama. In reality it is anything but. It portrays a very dystopian, other-worldly view of early 18th century court life, centred around Queen Ann, Sarah the 1st Duchess of Malborough and Abigail Hill, the latter's cousin. If this film did nothing, it did make me reach for the history books. Whether, in reality, court life was this warped and whether there was a lesbian relationship between Queen Ann and the other two women is unclear from what I have read. What is fact is that Sarah lived to the grand old age of 82 and become one of the most powerful and wealthy women during the reign of George I (Queen Ann's succcessor). No mention of Queen Ann's husband, Princde George of Denmark, who died in 1708, so I assume the film was set after this time. As for the fim itself, the acting is superb and I can understand why the film got the gongs it did. However, the dialogue was delivered in such a quick and matter-of-fact way, I found it did help to have the sub-titles turned ON! The frequent use of wide-angle photography and the one-bar jarriing "music" added to the sense of surrealism. Would I watch it again? - yes, if only to catch some of the dialogue I missed!