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 )
31 minutes ago