The Favourite

The Favourite ★★★★★

It seems absolutely masterful to me, how Yorgos Lanthimos makes everything in his whole theater-of-the-absurd oeuvre simultaneously hilarious, poignant, and terrifying. And pairing him with this palace-intrigue period piece story is an absolute stroke of genius, really; the way he so gleefully taints every trope of the genre, especially the visual ones. with his stilted, tragicomic gaze makes this feel like the world’s most expensive cringe-comedy stunt, and in some senses that's exactly what it is.

On this viewing, I found it interesting to draw a line between this, Veep, and Succession as three tar-black comedies dissecting politics (period, national, familial) as nests full of vipers, capable of lashing out with both civility and vulgarity in lethal union. I love how The Favourite explores almost every kind of power dynamic, and Lanthimos runs through that psychosexual/sociopolitical tangle with abandon, but he never lose sight of the burning need and repressed trauma at the heart of his characters. In some ways, The Favourite is about power as a drug, a numbing agent: from accountability, from appeals to decency, most of all from pain. The tragedy and horror of its final scene is the realization of sustained power as an addiction, that makes monsters of its characters and eventually, from such great heights, leaves them suddenly on their knees, still just gnawing at straw.

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