Last year I had no idea that The Favourite even existed. Its lead star (though I had a difficult time understanding how she was really the “main” character) Olivia Colman won the Oscar for Best Actress as Queen Anne of Great Britain. I had an idea of what the movie was about, in royal courts in Europe, favorites were typically best-friends or even the love of a monarch’s life and sometimes both. I would say Britain’s most infamous story of a royal favorite was Piers Gaveston, whom was most likely King Edward II’s true love and was a major reason Edward II was the first English monarch to abdicate the throne. This favorite story is similar but different.
The story is during the last years of the reign of Queen Anne of Great Britain, whom was the last Stuart monarch. After the death of her husband, Queen Anne’s health has been in decline and her obesity strong. Like some weaker monarchs in British history, Queen Anne isn’t much of a ruler now, but a woman with severe emotional problems who just happened to be the Queen of England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland.
The de facto ruler of the country is Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (an ancestor of Winston Churchill and Diana, Princess of Wales), the Queen’s favorite. It becomes clear that Sarah is the Queen’s mind…and heart. So it becomes easy for Sarah to assume leadership of the country (where it’s not a well-kept secret) when she wants her power.
Things get interesting when Sarah’s cousin, Abigail Hill arrives seeking a job. Her family came from more noble standings, but her father especially caused the family tough times. So she is stuck doing menial jobs like maid. But with the noble blood in her veins, it doesn’t take Abigail long to try to be the Queen’s favorite too. But like many relationships, there’s usually only room for two, and it’s going to be a bitter contest.
Overall I was a bit disappointed by The Favourite, though I was expecting that typical Oscar-bait “artsy” garbage. I can see why Olivia Colman won for Queen Anne, for what I could picture Anne from reading history, Colman’s take is pretty spot-on. But the story is mildly interesting, and at many times boring. It seems the movie has a hard time trying to figure out who should be the hero and villain here, Abigail or Sarah. Critics nearly all loved the film, but I just barely enjoyed it.