The Favourite (2018)
Title: The Favourite
Genre: Biography | Comedy | Drama
Runtime: 119 min
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz
In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend, Lady Sarah, governs the country in her stead. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.
AN ABSURD AND TRAGIC LESSON ABOUT POWER AND LOVE.
Like one of Yorgo’s past movies, Dogtooth (2009) I had to watch this film twice to fully enjoy and understand this complexed yet simple story about human feelings crossing ways with power. This is a unique premise about two women fighting for the power of the monarchy through a miserable queen (Olivia Colman). One using tough honesty and the other nice-lying which concludes into a sorrowful ending for all three of them. In the first viewing I was kind of confused about all the absurdity, three-way love triangle, duck races, naked fruit throwing and giant man wigs. Basically, at the first moment it were only funny, but at the second viewing very deep and eye-opening when I saw the context like in the real power strategies Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and Abigail (Emma Stone) were using to get their intents through.
Sarah is already an established close royal servant to the Queen when the poor girl Abigail are employed at the castle, so she are fighting for her privileged position and her country who are in deep war with French, meanwhile Abigail are only looking for herself and doing everything in her power to not return to her poor past. This is not only an interesting story but also hilarious, how this group of absurd royals with extreme wealth can’t act like grownups, not even their country-men are in a savage war with another empire cross the sea. Truly an amazing experience to watch.
The cast of the film was also very good with selling the concept and the world we’re visiting through Yorgo’s abstract lens. Olivia Colman for me was the most remembered one of the ensembles, both for her written character and performance. She gives us a view into this real tragic queen’s life, losing 17 children and having her husband send out to war. Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone’s acting and playful chemistry gave also their characters uniqueness.
The production overall it was unique, everything from the camera work to mise-en-scène. The film had a lot of wide angles showing the big rooms and halls, putting us deeper into the story and the world of the characters. At first it comes as a surprise but when you see the strategy behind it, you’ll appreciate it more. In the mainstream movies and biographies, these scenes surely would be shot differently, with smoother and tighter angels, not making us think about what we were watching. Another lovely touch I would point out is how the clothes and environment match up through their similar patterns, making the characters and background go together, gives us a hint about what kind of people we about get to know and the absurd experience we are about to feel.
I always have a first-problem understand Yorgo’s way of directing, the synonyms and symbolism, but I will every time give his movies a second chance, and you should too.
Richard Bengtsson | Journalist.