Up Your Farthingale

Friday lunchtime, it was piddling rain and I was sick of the sound of my own breathing so I went to the cinema. There were just three of us in the screening room, possibly the last three people on earth who hadn’t yet seen The Favourite. Or maybe the other two were smitten return viewers, in which case I hope the sound of my gnashing teeth didn’t spoil things for them.

I suppose I should preface this by saying that Olivia Colman deserves all the bouquets she’s received and the cinematography was gorgeous. Now let me sharpen my axe.

I get that this is supposed to be a black comedy (are we allowed to say that anymore?) The trouble, as far as I’m concerned, is that it tried to turn Queen Anne’s life, which was shortish and racked with loss and pain, into a lesbian romp. Lesbian romps are really having a moment. It used to be firm-jawed heroes, melting hetero clinches and soaring resolution music. Now it’s girls rummaging up each other’s farthingales.

First question: where was Mr Queen Anne, Prince George of Denmark? He was certainly still alive at that time and their marriage was, by all accounts, a happy one. But no sign of him. Was he allergic to rabbit fur?

Second question: those rabbits? In pies, yes. Hoppity skipping around the royal bedchamber? I don’t think so. However I’d have liked to be a fly on the wall when that idea was first pitched.

‘They’re like a metaphor for her lost kids.’

‘Great. I’m loving that idea. Metaphors are big right now. Dead babies are such a downer.’

And then there was the script. I realise I have overly sensitive ears but I’ve done a bit of writing myself, including period dialogue so I do have some skin in the criticism game. No-one wants a load of awkward and gratuitous ‘me-thinking’ and ‘prithee-ing’, but to put the word ‘okay’ in the mouth of an early 18th century character? I believe I also heard the sentence, ‘I’m fine.’ I definitely heard the word ‘posh’. See what I mean? I could have been a lot more forgiving about the girlie rummaging and the erasure of Mr Queen if the dialogue hadn’t been such a dog’s dinner.

One final concession. I thought the costumes were somewhat fabulous. The Duchess of Marlborough swaggering around in kick-ass trousers, shotgun erect? Perhaps a lesbian motif too far. But as my old Mum used to say, you can never go wrong with navy blue.

Overall verdict? Not my favourite.


  1. Helen on March 11, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    How I agree with you, Laurie. My thoughts about The Favourite exactly. We seem to be bombarded with Lesbian and Gay themes these days on film and TV. And as for historical accuracy, forget it. Everything seems to have gone the way of Kit Harington’s Gunpowder Plot TV play. Why let the truth get in the way of a good story? seems to be the attitude.
    History is being so selectively taught these days and my problem is that younger people will swallow all this cod history whole and firmly believe it really happened.
    BTW you said in an earlier post that you are writing again – but you didn’t say what. Dare one ask?
    Cheers, Helen

  2. Julia Miles on March 12, 2019 at 10:12 am

    Totally agree, fantastic acting but not an enjoyable film it just didn’t work, keeping everything crossed for a new novel from you later this year… please?

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