The Favourite – Not My Favorite

Rating (3 out of 5)

The movie starts out well and you are drawn in the intrigue of court.  Then 3/4 way into  the movie I found myself getting bored wondering how much longer we had left.   Then the director rushes to the end, leaves you with a long drawn out final scene and I left unimpressed.

Plot:  A young maid, Abigail (Emma Stone) comes to Queen Anne’s (Olivia Colman) court to seek employment from her cousin Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz).  In order to survive Abigail must make some moral choices.

What I Liked:  The movie clicked when following Abigail’s move-in to court and followed her growth from gaining employment, to being Lady Sarah’s maid, to the Queen’s maid.  I found Abigail’s story about her family and her situation interesting.  The dynamic between the three ladies, Abigail, Lady Sarah and the Queen shined and the strength of the film.  For example, in the picture below, Lady Sarah mentored Abigail and these scenes engaged me and drew me into the characters.

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There were actually quite a few good laughs.  A majority of the laughs came from the dialog between the 3 women.  Lady Sarah’s brutal honesty to the Queen or Abigail recounting her situation to Lady Sarah.

The performances by all three women are astounding, and their performances maybe justification for watching the film.  Another reason could be the fabulous costumes and eye catching sets.  I especially liked Lady Sarah’s shooting garb picture above.   I see Academy’s for the movie in these areas.  I might nominate the musical score but there were a couple of scenes where the score changed and didn’t match the rest of the film.

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What I Didn’t Like:  Running at 1 minute shy of 2 hours, Favourite had a great build-up and then all of a sudden rushed to an end.  There are probably hours of film on the cutting room floor (do they still have those?).   In trying to cover such a broad set of characters, the director missed the development and change of the characters, and therefore the ending felt confusing to me.  For example, Abigail changes towards the end of the movie, and inconsistent with her character throughout the movie.  What was the impetus for the change?

With the 2 hour film, you can’t waste shots and felt there were a number of those in showing the excesses of the day.  In particular the scene where oranges are thrown at a naked man.  The orange scene felt like 10 minutes, I am sure it was only 3 minutes, but we only needed 30 seconds.  There wasn’t really a point to the long orange scene to the development of the 3 women.  A scene like this is where a director is in love with showing a vision in their head rather than focusing on telling a story.  Additionally, the protracted  final scene detracted from the poignant end, and again felt like 10 minutes long.

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I can’t think of anything more interesting than the politics of England and parliament’s relationship with the crown.  The intricacies are why there are TV series covering British monarchs or movies covering a specific segment or relationship within their life span of a monarch.  The movie needed more focus; the politics of the day or the women’s relationship with one another.  By trying to include it all we ended up with a diluted the story.

Conclusion:  An over stylized biography starts with a bang but leaves you listing at the end.  You leave the theater not quite sure how you got to the end and disappointed.   My parents are huge fans of movies about British royalty, having grown up in Scotland, and I can not recommend The Favourite movie to them.

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