When I first saw trailers for The Favourite, I was delighted. I've been interested in Queen Anne's reign since someone gave me G. M. Trevelyn's England under Queen Anne when I was a teenager. It's a period that gets little attention compared with the Tudors or the Napoleonic era, yet it was pivotal in many ways. Not that I expected the film to be a history lesson. After all, it's a drama, not a documentary, so I wasn't disappointed that the film concentrated on the relationships between Queen Anne and her favourites, nor that it stretched the most scurrilous speculation about what went on almost to the point of pinging!
Everything about the film was calculatedly outrageous. The colours of the costumes may have been restrained, but the blue and white actually added to the atmosphere of luxury and power at a time when Chinese porcelain was the height of fashion and tea was an expensive luxury. The yellow candlelight and the use of a wide angle lens to distort the views of long galleries and rooms, added to the feeling that something was askew, or even sick.
I've heard the film described as a comedy, and there's wit aplenty, but it's always accompanied by sorrow. Some people might find the language and sex scenes difficult to cope with, but it has to be said that the former is far more explicit than the latter, with actions being suggested rather than shown–anyone expecting lots of naked flesh will be largely disappointed. The performances of all the cast, particularly Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz (both funny and poignant), were excellent.
There were insights into life in the period, especially the way servants behaved and were treated, but for the most part I would forget what you know, what you think you know and what you aren't sure you know, and simply watch The Favourite for what it is: a highly entertaining film.