The Favourite

The Favourite ★★★★

Sexuality as power, to manipulate, to get ahead. The two women at the service of the Queen know exactly who they are, what they want, and how to get it - one plays impenetrable but brutally direct and honest, while the other plays modest, charming and would flatter her way to the monarch’s (bed)side. All to get on the good graces of Queen Anne, the most powerful woman in all of England, but at the same time powerless to these two women. When we first saw the temperamental Queen, I feared she would be nothing but a one-note caricature and an object of ridicule straight out of Lanthimos’ oddball world. Surprisingly, the weight of the story of the 17 rabbits revealed her character was much more than a quirk, and Olivia Colman took every chance she could to very subtly inject Anne with humanity and compassion that one will be caught off guard with its emotional impact by THAT final shot. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention anything about the oddities in the narrative being a Lanthimos creation. It is to be expected, but it feels more natural here, and not as erratic and self-indulgent as his previous features. You also see a very distinct voice and a much razor sharp, focused and cohesive storyline - thankfully, cos I personally could not sit through another Sacred Deer. Is it a coincidence that his best work yet is one he did not write? I also expected dark humor, but surprised to see explicit racy banters, ridiculous slapstick, and punchlines punctuated by camera pans. What made my experience so much better was watching it with a great audience - 600+ full house - that laughed at the right jokes (which in this case was almost every scene). Despite the hilarity of the circus on screen, it was still very direct and convincing when dealing with corruption, power struggle, subterfuge, wealth, betrayal, and even love. It caught me by surprise how warm and humane these Lanthimos characters were, despite the coldness and oddities of their shells. It is at its best when we see any combination of the three women (Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone, and a quick shoutout to Nicolas Hoult too) and I think it would not have worked if in the hands of less capable actors.