The Favourite | Teen Ink

The Favourite

May 6, 2019
By sophiethestork GOLD, Tirana, Other
sophiethestork GOLD, Tirana, Other
13 articles 0 photos 0 comments

The director Yorgos Lanthimos has chosen a very convincing starting point as an introduction for the movie, called “The Favourite”. With the aim of illustrating the full decline of Abigail (one of the main protagonists), she is not only shown as being treated badly by others, but is literally thrown into the mud when getting off the carriage in the beginning of the movie, signifying her full decline. This obliges her to start at “zero”, even though she was once too part of the upper class of society, as she was the Baroness Masham before, until her father lost everything including her, through a poker game. With this beginning, the viewer's interest is sparked to watch the movie, as the point that Abigail has reached is the lowest point of her life and cannot possibly go any lower than this and imagination is triggered towards how she can overcome that and rise up to higher status and get out of the  decline that she is in. She realizes that she has to sacrifice a lot and use the only utilitarian value that she has at the moment, which is the relation to the right hand of the Queen, Lady Sarah because Abigail is her cousin. The viewer of the movie will get the hint that Abigail will succeed much beyond this initial step because she acts very carefully and thoughtfully through her actions to make her plan come true of replacing Sarah and becoming the new right hand of the Queen.

The viewers’ perspective is clearly driven towards the culmination towards the conflict between both protagonists Abigail and Sarah for the privileged position towards the Queen or in this case being the “favourite” of the Queen. In addition to a few telling competitive situations, one can understand that Abigail is acting in a more manipulative, cold-blooded and strategic way than her rival, Sarah. At the same time, the viewer is pushed into a perception of the Queen being very weak, an obvious target for manipulation and unease at meeting decisions as a Queen. For the viewer, this generates empathy or pity towards her as she seems to find relief from the loss of her own children at birth by holding huge rabbits as her own personal pets in her room, each one representing one of her children that she had lost throughout the years. But as the plot evolves, one can understand that the Queen is perfectly aware of the ongoing rivalry and competition between Abigail and Sarah and seeks to draw the best advantages out of it. It is not surprising that at the end Abigail has become the “favourite” of the Queen even though Sarah was the one who made Abigail her own assistant in the beginning after creating a type of liking towards her and making her own right-hand.

The timelessness of the underlying constellation implies also that both rivals even recur to giving personal sexual advantages to the Queen which she obviously enjoys. Similarly telling about the character of Abigail is that she pretends to be in love with an aristocrat of the court so that he would marry her, and grant her a title to her name.  As she is able to pretend and generate such emotions one can understand very well how cold-blooded and manipulative she is. This scene and the other one makes the viewer guess that she will likely win the competition between both her and Sarah.

With Abigail ultimately succeeding in becoming the “favourite” of the Queen, Sarah is completely devastated and shocked that she lost her position against someone who started literally at “zero”. The Queen in turn, enjoys very much the fact that Abigail is her new devoted servant, who will do anything to stay her “favourite”. While this seems to be the end, it is clear that the entire scenario and development could easily repeat itself with now Abigail losing her position against someone with even less morals and wanting to have her spot. It would be unwarranted to define “The Favourite” as a timely feminist film with regards to its handling of female power in a male-dominated world. And yet, there is a certain timelessness in its old-fashioned frankness about a woman’s fight to get what she wants and demand what she deserves by any means necessary; brains, sexual appeal or usually, a combination of both.

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