23 February 2019 | andrewroy-04316
Funny and with extremely memorable characters, The Favourite is a fun and weird character-driven period drama
While Lanthimos continues his eccentric and absurdist filmmaking tendencies, The Favourite is still an easy one to get behind and think deeply about. The premise is essential to all of the plot machinations: in early 18th century England, we are in Queen Anne's court, where political power and maneuvering is everything. Queen Anne is an entertaining central figure, as while all politics revolve around her and she can do what she wants, she also seems like a puppet and easily influenced. The real heart of the movie is Abigail's character arc and her rivalry with Sarah. Abigail, played wonderfully by Emma Stone (who in my opinion should've been considered the lead actress, not Olivia Colman), comes from a family who was wealthy but fell far, and comes to her cousin Sarah looking for a job in the palace. Sarah is intelligent, knowledgeable in the political game, and the Queen's closest adviser. Abigail is immediately who we root for, as an outsider ready to work hard and earn a successful role near the Queen. We see her develop from believing that the best way to rise is through honor and loyalty, but quickly sees that everyone is playing political games and becomes ruthless in outstripping Sarah for the Queen's affection. The script is phenomenal and treats the characters very consistently but never one-dimensionally, by clearly showing their motivations but also portraying them realistically as humans. The humor really works, from the absurdist touches like the duck races to the funny dialogue, like when Sarah tells the Queen she looks like a badger and the Queen agrees. The ending, while an ambiguous one, I think symbolizes the Queen's loneliness and struggle for control, as that final shot of Abigail rubbing her leg fades into rabbits. There seems to be a lot going on, but really it's a fun character drama between these three players in an extremely politically charged and power driven society, and particularly Abigail's development and increasing ruthlessness within that framework. On all of those counts, it's very successful as a film, balancing coherence and intelligent filmmaking with innovation and quirks as Lanthimos always does. Every scene builds up and further develops the characters, and none contradict or seem meaningless, which is a sign of a great movie and great script.
Purely for my own future memory, I'm copying down a line I thought was really funny: "Obviously you have chosen to keep the particulars of your dismissal from me. I shall leave a gap in the conversation for you to remedy that."