The Favourite

The Favourite ★★★★½

It's just so refreshing to see a movie where men are just pawns in women's games, just a splinter on the tip of their finger, the butt of the joke without ever realizing it. But while useless and bothersome, they also pose an ever-present problem. All three women live a very gendered pain, but the film allows them to live that pain, it recognizes their feelings and experiences. It forces us to empathize with them. These women hurt. They have deep wounds that cannot heal. And yes, this is hilarious, and yes, this is a delectable power play, but at the center of it all is these women's tragedies. And no matter how hard they try to escape them, they never can.

And while I agree that Lanthimos is often needlessly cruel, The Favourite lacks his usual cold-heartedness. The brutal honesty of these women's pain is not a joke, even when it's used for humour. The film never mocks them. Instead, it allows them to be whole. They are grotesque and vulnerable and beautiful and witty and ambitious and cunning and powerful and weak—they are allowed to be all that and more. It's that all that and more that makes all the difference.

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