The Favourite (2018)

The Favourite
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Writer: Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
Cast: Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Mark Gatiss, Nicholas Hoult
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 4.11.2018

Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives at the court of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), a distant relative of the queen and her new servant. But Anne is frail and it’s her confidante Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) who actually holds the reins to the country. Struggling for a place at court and a share of her power, Abigail tries to insinuate herself into Anne’s close circle, leading to a power struggle with Sarah.

The Favourite is an extremely funny film with an ending that doesn’t quite fit the rest in tone. I’m still undecided whether I liked that or not. But either way, the film is really entertaining.

The film poster showing Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz standing in the back and Emma Stone sitting in the front with a sullen expression.

The Favourite is probably Lanthimos’ most accessible film so far, and definitely his most openly funny one. Arguably, its his first outright comedy, although there were humorous parts in all of the films of his I saw. That makes the ending, that is very much a downer, sit strangely with the rest of the film, especially in its pace that is much slower than the rest, although I did appreciate that all that plotting has actual consequences for the plotters.

It generally was interesting that the film remains mostly vague about how corrupted Sarah and Abigail actually are. I mean, it’s clear that they both want power, but it was more ambiguous whether they just want it for their own gain or they actually cared for Anne. The answer is probably both, allowing for more complexity than we usually get for scheming women characters. That being said, the weakest point for the film for me was that the ending is more decisive in its judgement, particularly of Abigail, than the rest of the film is.

Emma Stone and Olivia Colman in the film.

I really enjoyed the mix of historical setting and modern language and also plot. Lanthimos uses the juxtaposition of both to great effect (though a more modern approach to Anne’s illness and the ableism that the film reproduces would have been nice as well). The cast is great and it’s simply a blast to watch them. Plus, it has one of the best dance scenes in recent memory.

In short, I had fun watching the film, despite of my issues with it. It’s stylish, well-made and respects its characters – a winning mix.

Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in the film.

Summarizing: Definitely worth seeing.

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