Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Film: 'The Favourite'

The last, lingering vestiges of flu weren't conducive to having an appropriately receptive frame of mind to watch this historical royal bedchamber drama, though one thing that stood out is that no one can justifiably complain that it isn't handsomely mounted. Awards in several fields, acting included, are on the cards. It's also a most welcome three-woman tale, the few male characters being little more than background figures.

It's late in the short reign of Queen Anne (ruled 1702-14), played by Olivia Coleman, a figure who has the dubious historical reputation of being the most boring of all this country's sovereigns. Plagued and increasingly incapacitated by advancing gout, Coleman makes the figure a little more colourful than one might expect, displaying a short-fused temper with a vulnerability exacerbated by her exhaustion of life. Before she became queen she'd been through no less than 17 pregnancies, more than any other English/British queen, with all except five being stillbirths or miscarriages, only one of the survivors living beyond four, a son who'd died at eleven. (Anne's husband, Prince George of Denmark and Norway had died in 1706).

In Anne's increasingly fragile condition, she'd played into the confidences of her friend and intimate, Lady Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz), to whom she'd already delegated some royal duties, a character who's not afraid to stand up for herself and even directly answer the monarch back, something no one else would get away with. Into the scene comes one Abigail (Emma Stone), the product of a brief dalliance by an aristocrat, who presents herself as a willing and able servant to the royal household, which Lady Sarah is attracted by and takes her on, though making sure she doesn't overstep the mark in propriety, and the Queen herself is similarly impressed. It's not long before competition for the ailing Queen's attentions and favours between these two becomes manifest, becoming quite bitter in time. All this is set against battle campaigns against the French.

It's quite an accomplished film, very atmospheric throughout, not holding back on illustrating prevailing crudities of the day, both in language and behaviour, none of which should surprise anyone. Script is lively enough too.
Being me, I was several times distracted by the presences of both indoor ducks and rabbits (the latter freely jumping around in the Queen's boudoir), dreading if anything untoward were to happen to any of them, though there was little to be concerned about.......just a little!

At two hours, the film's a bit on the long side, though I must conceded that it never flags. It has meaty roles for the three actresses, all about of equal weight.

Director Yorgos Lanthimos' previous two films ended up in my 'Ten Best' of that particular year. I liked 'The Lobster' a lot when I first saw it at the cinema, though quite recently I tried to watch it again when it was premiered on TV - and found it so unwatchable I had to turn it off. I similarly loved his 'The Killing of the Sacred Deer', but haven't seen it again since its cinema screening. I don't know if I'll get the same reaction on attempting a re-watch. 

At the moment I very much doubt if 'The Favourite' will find a place in my ultimate list of 2019 - though note the current exalted ratings on other sites, below. To be fair to it, maybe I ought to see it again, next time without the inconveniences of weakened health condition around................6.

(IMDb..................8.2 / Rott Toms................8.5 )




17 comments:

  1. I've just listened to Coleman on radio 4 and she's delightful
    I'm looking forward to the movie

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    1. Feel I ought to have liked it more than I did, JayGee, because of....you know. On sober reflection I think a rating of '6.5' or even a '7' might have been justified, but there you go!

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  2. Hey Ray, Happy New Year! Sorry I havent been about much. I am trying to remedy this. Hoping 2019 is kind to us all. Sol xxx

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    1. Great to hear from you, Sol - and a very happy one to you too! My wishes for 2019 are modest all round - just be better than the last year.
      I appreciate that you'v been struggling to get your blog up and running again and I won't stop looking forward to when it can be - soonish, I trust.
      'See' ya later.

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  3. We saw this one a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed a more female-centric film for a change; didn't hurt that all three actresses are among my 'favourites.'
    I especially loved the "All About Eve"-ness of it.

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    1. Yes, the three leads all being female was a major attraction for me too. Very unusual indeed, and by no means the worse for it. It could have descended into 'typical' verbal bitchiness from all sides but it managed to be rather more nuanced than just that. I feel I should give the film another go, and am sure to feel it even moreso when the awards and honours season comes around - starting next month, in fact.

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  4. Replies
    1. Thought you might, Rachel. I only wish I had, and could well have done if I'd been in healthier form at the time. I'm bracing myself for the lavish praise it's going to attract over next couple of months or more.

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  5. I expect Mrs G will be dragging me along. We have three to wait for its arrival here. The local reviews are good. Viennale: 'Sometimes a lady likes to have some fun.' (a quote from the film I think) , Programmkino 'bitter bad and brilliant film', Kino-Zeit 'intrigue and power . . . humour and comedy . . .'

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    1. I hope you won't be seeing it in a dubbed version, G. It's quite a lively script and much would be lost if not left intact. However, the visuals alone are quite sumptuous.

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  6. Oh oh oh !
    I actually saw this one!
    I thought it all rather sad; in the end everyone losses.

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    1. It was supposed to be a 'comedy' Dr Spo. I suppose it did have its moments in that respect though I, for one, wasn't as overwhelmed by its charms as some have been. I just heard a few mins ago that Olivia Coleman has won Best Actress Golden Globe award for playing the Queen. Fair enough though I'm not going to dwell on it.

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    2. it started with some comedy but (for me) it turned dark and ended sad.

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    3. A mixed bag it certainly was. To be fair to it I now feel I ought to re-watch it with a totally different frame of mind, though I don't fancy paying to sit through it again.

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  7. Replies
    1. That surprises me not in the least, JayGee. In a more amenable mood I may well have felt the same way.

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