The Favourite uses the rather unusual film genre of a "period comedy" to tell the story of an ambitious maid who comes to the 18th Century court of England's Queen Anne and tries to win the Queen's favour in every possible way she can…
A period drama with a hilarious twist
Abigail is hoping that her cousin Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz), will help her to get a (good) position at court. After all, Sarah is the closest confidante and current favourite of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), the ruling monarch at the time and a real "drama queen" in every sense of the word.
As Queen Anne is unfit to rule due to her various health issues and severe depression, Sarah also effectively rules the country, which is currently at war with France.
Queen Anne and her current favourite, Lady Sarah Churchill. Photo: © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox
All of Abigail's high hopes, however, are scattered when Sarah only gives her work as a scullery maid – the lowest ranked job in the palace. But then, Abigail notices that the Queen suffers from gout and sees an opportunity to win back Sarah's favour. By using herbs, she manages to ease the pain of the Queen's inflamed legs and as a thank you, Sarah makes Abigail her lady-in-waiting.
Now being closer than ever to the centre of power, Abigail does everything she can to win the Queen's favour and improve her position. For that, she will stop at nothing… Even if that means starting a sexual relationship with the Queen, using the affection of a young baron (Joe Alwyn) to trick him into marriage, or plotting to kill her own cousin…
Nicholas Hoult wears an enormous wig in "The Favourite". Photo: © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox
The Favourite Film Locations
Hatfield House – A favourite with film crews
Hatfield House. Photo by Tim Felce (Airwolfhound) via Wikimedia Commons
The majority of filming for The Favourite (about 85 %) took place in Hatfield House, Hertfordshire – a country house and former royal palace used by several British monarchs, including the real Queen Anne.
You might recognise Hatfield House from other films and series because the Tudor-style brick building from 1611 is a real favourite with film crews and the list of films shot here is very long.
Many of the films for which Hatfield House served as a major film location, are about the royal family of England because it's usually easier to film here than in the currently inhabited royal palaces, such as Buckingham Palace in London. Examples for "royal films" shot on location at Hatfield House include The King's Speech (2010), Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) or the Netflix series The Crown (2016– ).
Scene from "The Favourite" at Hatfield House. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox
But even for "non-royal films", Hatfield House has proven to be a popular film location. Among others, Sherlock Holmes (2009), My Week with Marilyn (2011), and Paddington (2014) were partly filmed here.
The historical house and gardens of Hatfield House are open to visitors during the summer season, which will start again in early April. Hatfield House can be easily reached by train from London with the fast train from King's Cross only taking 20 minutes.
The Lawn House
If you like to stay longer, you can also book yourself a room at the nearby "luxury Bed & Breakfast" Lawn House, which is open to visitors all year round. Rates for rooms here currently start at £90.
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace. Photo by © Sonja Irani / FilmFanTravel.com
Another key film location for The Favourite was Hampton Court Palace, which is located just outside of London in East Molesey, but is easily accessible by national rail from London-Waterloo station.
The main filming locations here were Henry VIII's Tudor Kitchens (where Abigail works as a scullery maid and has to sleep on the cold kitchen floor), the Cartoon Gallery and the Fountain Court. All of these sites are open to the public and included in your day admission ticket to the palace.
The film crew of "The Favourite" in the Tudor Kitchens at Hampton Court Palace. Photo: © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox
Currently, there also is a special exhibition with some of the costumes used in The Favourite. These exhibitions are at Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace – another royal palace you can visit all-year-round and is located in central London.
"Fountain Court" at Hampton Court Palace. Photo by © Sonja Irani / FilmFanTravel.com
The final verdict
Aside from this being a great example for film locations that can be easily visited from London, I loved the fact that this was a "period comedy" with countless "laugh-out-loud" moments, rather than a "period drama". After all, history can be fun, right?
***** 5 out of 5 stars
Scene from "The Favourite". © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox
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