What I Didn’t Like About the Movie ‘The Favourite’

 

The movie, ‘The Favourite’, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, has gotten near universal praise and is definitely up for Oscar consideration. Perhaps what has gotten the most praise for the movie is that it provided three actresses, Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz and Emily Stone, with substantial roles which is something rarely seen in movies.

However it seems to me that there is a big downside to this movie that has not been confronted yet. From an historical perspective the movie is not only false, but it is dishonest to women.

First lets deal with the real Queen Anne. She was born in 1665 to the man who would later become King James II of the Stuart line who reigned from 1685 until he was deposed in 1688. Anne would later become Queen in 1702 and would reign until 1714. Her husband Prince George of Denmark lived only to 1708. ‘The Favourite’ does not mention him at all so presumably the movie takes place after he died.

Queen Anne’s main adviser during her reign is Sarah Churchill. Churchill was a Tory and favored mostly moderate policies. However later in 1710 Queen Anne and Sarah had a falling out precipitated by Queen Anne’s friendship with her servant Abigail Masham. At that point, Abigail became the main adviser. In political outlook, Abigail was a Whig. After Queen Anne’s death, Sarah Churchill wrote an article disparaging the Queen, and that may have been used as the basis for ‘The Favourite’.

So what did ‘The Favourite’ get wrong? The movie takes this rare time in history when three women were making the ruling decisions for Great Britain, and turns it into a lesbian sex farce. Queen Anne was pregnant 17 times, so converting her into a lesbian must have been difficult. There is no historical record or even gossip that Queen Anne was a lesbian. But that isn’t the main fact the movie deliberately gets wrong. One of the major plot lines of the movie is that Abigail severely poisons Sarah in order to take over as Queen Anne’s advisor and lover. This poisoning is totally made up, and turns the whole reign of Queen Anne into a bad joke. So instead of these two royal advisors to the Queen representing two reasonable points of view, Whig and Tory, it all becomes a case of lesbian jealousy. This is not a case of inaccuracy; this is a deliberate lie.

To me this would be similar to making a movie about George Washington in which he is banging both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Then in a fit of gay jealousy, Jefferson severely poisons Adams.

The men in ‘The Favourite’ are represented as frivolous fools with their exceedingly long-haired wigs, but that doesn’t excuse the movie from its dishonest portrayal of Queen Anne and her advisors.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Well, this is not a film I was ever going to watch, not even free-to-air, but I had heard this nonsense about a fabricated lesbian relationship and I’m glad you’ve called it out for what it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Interesting… I’m actually looking forward to seeing this because I love Olivia Coleman and have followed her career right from the start when she was in comedy skit shows. Hadn’t realised there was a lesbian twist in it and I’ve just seen a quote by the director which says it’s not supposed to be accurate: the set and costumes aren’t even accurate either; he was more interested in the relationship between characters. Am going to see it on 1st January so will report back & let you know what I think!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Hi Kim,
      ‘The Favourite’ is the movie I have most wanted to see for a long time, an historical drama about a lesser known leader than the usual. I guess I’m not a fan of historical dramas making stuff up. The movie is well done in so many ways, and I do urge you to see it. As an imaginary work, ‘The Favourite’ is fine if you ignore what really happened.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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