Queen Anne (ruled 1702-1714), sympathetically played by Olivia Colman, is one of the loneliest of people. She has lost 17 children and her long-time husband. She suffers from gout and other illnesses. She has low self-esteem and lacks confidence. Fortunately, she has the loving companionship of Lady Marlborough (a vampish Rachel Weisz), albeit that Marlborough then effectively uses her position as favourite to run the country in a way that directly benefits herself and her husband’s political ambitions. It’s not an entirely cynical relationship between Anne and her favourite, however, as there is a genuine tenderness there and Lord Marlborough leads the fight against the French.
Enter Lady’s Marlborough’s down-at-heel cousin, Abigail (the ever so pretty Emma Stone). Abigail quickly starts to vie for the Queen’s attention, while also securing a rich husband for herself. There is plenty of comedy and chicanery here, and this is where the movie is at its romping best. There are intrigue, double-dealing and political dalliances aplenty.
We feel sorry for the Queen – ruling is a lonely business. No one is truly your friend. You end up being used. But there are certain compensations, let’s say. And that pretty much sums it up. Ho hum.
It’s difficult to know how to end this review. Similarly, The Favourite doesn’t quite know how to end. In fact, it doesn’t really have much of an ending. It just stops. Odd. Not thought-provoking. Definitely anti-climactic. Weird. Oh well. It scores a respectable 8 out of 10 from me.