The Favourite (2018) – Of Duck and Men

Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite” is a contemporary art movie about Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz in their fight for Olivia Colman. A social class feminism battle between Abigail Masham and Lady Sarah Churchill to become the most loyal person. An absurd love triangle story with a unique and full satire perspective. It’s a period-piece movie where you don’t really care about its inaccuracy system from historical records. A film where the position of men as a clown without acting. A world where men dominate positions in the dynamics order of the political world and war. This is not your one of a cup tea and of course not a Yorgos Lanthimos’ in general.

Emma Stone as Abigail, at first glance, the most attractive woman so we put much sympathy on her character. She is a person who is too kind and willing to fulfill his role as a maid. Abigail realized that the world’s treatment of poor people was only enough to take a leftover meal. On the other hand, Rachel Weisz as Lady Sarah is an extreme authority and Queen Anne’s favorite. Contrary to Abigail, she is a fierce, violent and slightly cruel person. The essence of “The Favourite” is exploring a historical event with a social class order. This film shows extreme-style with comedy undertone. Honestly, it’s one of the most absurd yet weird movies that I don’t really get it especially the ending. I understand the main plot but I don’t understand it as a whole.

The first amazing point in this film is the motivation between characters. The writer gives us a variety of backstories from each character so that the audience wants to sympathize with anyone. Initially, we felt that society displeased Abigail because the upper-class community banished her. Having a traumatic past, she has a reason so we know what’s actually spinning.

Abigail is just a woman who doesn’t want to be treated as a lower class. The more we look closely, it turns out that her real motives are different. She is a viper and of course, I think she will win the war overcoming Lady Sarah. She is consumed with her alter ego where she is not aware of what she has done. In the end, she is just part of Queen Anne’s pet rabbit. Abigail is a perfect representation of a social sphere. A tough competition even in a small scope is also a struggle so that we don’t want to be treated in the lower class as well.

The second point, as well as the strongest, is the cinematography. So many wide shots, I mean, wider shots around the scene. Most use a fish-eye lens so that the scope of space is wider. This film shows an extraordinary range of “wide” not only the story. We see a character being alone in a large room space. The set contained in historical paintings and the “society” that doesn’t do much exactly things. The “society” here is intended by men. Their weird designs, excessive make-up, and wigs are so annoying. In fact, their hobbies and activities are so strange. Apart from being shown with such high ego and sexual desire, they are so obsessed with ducks. Unforgettably, they are also very happy to throw blood oranges into a fat-naked guy and do silly dances.

In “The Favourite”, Robbie Ryan doesn’t actively doubt. He continued to move while carried away with the symphony of a so wide camera. And then, he dashed forward with characters. He moves along so that the characters cannot reach their position. The use of natural light is so effective. A shot at night using candlelight immediately reminded me of Kubrick’sBarry Lyndon“. Anxiety, skepticism, and serene atmosphere are back to our main character, Abigail.

Apart from Abigail with her sly feminine nature, Lady Sarah is a firm, stiff, and strong woman. Abigail’s opponent proved to be overpowered. At first, she could not compete with her in a shooting-a-bird. In addition, Lady Sarah is also an overprotective person, especially to Queen Anne. She always mocked Queen Anne with her ridiculous makeup and obesity. She also hates a rabbit. But for Lady Sarah, she had a limit in her feelings and was the most honest person compared to Abigail. Sarah didn’t even consider Queen Anne as a gift in her war.

There is so much a scene that repeatedly portrays Abigail’s manipulative to Queen Anne. The dance scene with the queen is one of them. And, the scene where Lady Sarah was very honest in her feelings for Queen Anne. However, space between spaces changed as if Lady Sarah’s feelings were difficult to accept. She didn’t care about what people said whether she was cruel or cold-hearted. In essence, she didn’t play a game which was the same as Abigail. Love is honest because she will never lie in her life.

Olivia Colman as Queen Anne, the best performance for the entire movie, is the mediator character in this triangular war. Regardless of Abigail is the main character, she is the most annoying and ridiculous person. But for some reason, she is the human character. She suffered from her 17 dead children who were replaced with rabbits. She was also very honest with her feelings when someone insulted him or something she didn’t like. Like for example when he listens to music because it can open her emotional wounds. Or a silly dance that makes her uncomfortable. Being a queen, even a leader, is severe torture. In addition, having to think about the wishes of her people, she had to fight on her own against her being full of indulgence.

At the end of the movie, a question then appears. A reflection between the images of rabbits, Abigail, and Queen Anne united into one. However, the most dominating is the rabbit. The question then pops up: did Abigail win? Did Abigail get what she wanted? A question then flicks a sphere of society including the small ones into social issues. In addition to comedy and weird dialogues, this film explores, humorously, the power dynamics occur in structuralism. A closed power system is as well included. “The Favourite” is a periodical contemporary historical movie about the dynamics of social class, political and also love. The irony felt in this movie. Outstanding performances, Emma Stone, Olivia Colman, and Rachel Weisz. With a great score, this movie is a touch of various decisions. There will never be an easy choice.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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