The Favourite ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Even better on a second viewing. While a first watch is perhaps (and deservedly so) caught up with the drama between the actresses, another round of The Favourite brings a fuller, richer experience of how tragic the entire situation is. Here is an extravagant palace, bedecked in gold and fine paintings, where the monarch is an emotional and weak-willed person, and the one thing she needs the most, a human connection, is nowhere to be found in the nest of cobras that populate her home. We barely leave the palace grounds, and when we do, it’s to a seedy brothel where there is no love, just lust. 

At one point, the Queen shows concern for her subjects, only to be shot down by Sarah (Weisz has such depth as a tough and honest lover), who tells her that people are to be led, not to lead. Abigail (Stone is so grand as the pitch-perfect antagonist that it’s a surprise no one has thought of giving her a role like this before) may pretend to care about them a bit in front of the Queen, but as she tells Harley in a hallway, she’s on her own side. Always. 

Of course, the one person willing to provide the Queen with the human connection she so desperately needs (and Colman is truly extraordinary in the role, walking on a tightrope of childish need and icy cruelty) is banished from her own home country due to a moment of madness, leaving the Queen stuck with a conniving snake who cares not one bit for her. Sarah may have not wished to touch the rabbits or greet them, but Abigail does not mind attempting to crush one of them beneath her heel. The laughs hit harder on a second watch, but the sorrow of the film comes through and cuts the viewer like a knife. Just a broken woman and seventeen rabbits.

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