This is an undated illustration of two White women engaged in what looks like cards games. One woman, to the right of the frame, is looking down at cards in her hands, and another woman, lower to the left, with only her chest up showing, is looking directly at the camera. The woman who is looking at the camera looks quite content. The warmth that is suggest between the two women here is being used to represent the women in "The Favourite".

The Favourite is weird but that might be a good thing.

One of the great things about watching period dramas is their ability to evoke a whimsical feeling of being lost in a story. There’s a certain fantasy that makes them appealing. Yet, Yorgos Lanthimos’ adaptation of The Favourite, yields a lack lustre watching experience leaving a yearning for something more.

The historical drama which centres on two women and their scheming to win the love of Queen Anne  (Olivia Colman) captures many themes including love, sex and power. Emma Stone, plays Abigail a Lady turned maid, who is downcast as a result of her father’s failings and gambling. Naturally she turns to family for help and entreats her cousin Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz) to provide her with a station to earn a living, and maybe because of pity, Churchill provides Abigail a position as a maid.

The enveloping scenes that follow between Abigail and Sarah show their relationship transform from intimate to coarse. Abigail is able to scheme by helping the queen and presenting a warm and kind demeanour, which in turn, wins her favor in Sarah’s eyes who is the queens favourite companion. But soon, Abigail seems to grow ravenous for power, even at Sarah’s expense and because Sarah stands between her ambitions, it’s only natural then that she should remove her challenge.

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The story it self, is interesting because it explores love and sexuality and affirms the idea that sex between women is not just a passing light-hearted fling for fun but a precious and natural intimacy between lovers. Sarah and Queen Anne’s relations early on in the film pushes this idea. The leads are also superb. Colman is striking in her ability to evoke understanding and compassion for the Queen as she struggles with depression and a dark countenance, having suffered the loss of her husband, health, and having to bear still, the weight of losing so many children.

Yet, The Favourite is not without faults. It disappoints in its cinematography. Throughout the film, some shots are viewed through narrowed angles which often took away from the story line, despite its effort to be used as a connection to the themes in the story. As well, the title cards, which marked different section in the film, were so sharp, it pulls viewers from the story and creates almost a haggard catalogue of scenes, which takes away from the flow and flowery experience that comes with watching movies. It reminds viewers that they are indeed watching a documentation of events instead of feeling and being engrossed in the story and connecting with the characters.

More, The Favourite felt dry at times because the tension between Sarah and Abigail arises without much explanation and ends in an unsatisfactory way with the queen being subject to the manipulation of Abigail and with no one to protect her. The ending for everyone is marked with a weird darkness. Despite the fact that, Sarah was manipulative, her final circumstance is pitiful and depressing and a bit confounding. The queen seems like a victim of her circumstance. Though she finally sees Abigail’s cruel nature, it’s too late. Instead of swallowing her pride, she accepts her mistakes and basks in her woes, knowing she is truly alone.

The twist and turns make you feel as though something remarkable will happen in the end and though the ending isn’t quite so plainly predictable, it falls flat of creating a novel ending that maintains the integrity and sharp tone of the story in the beginning. It doesn’t quite rise up to meet the esteemed tone delivered early on to capture audiences. Once the story is over, audiences instead emerge feeling perplexed.

The potential for the story to really make a mark was lost in the twists that fall flat and unbalanced mix of haphazard transitions as well as the kaleidoscopic viewing experience.

The film feels as though it’s constantly challenging your enjoyment and understanding of what is happening, and though many may look at this film as a masterpiece, it evokes little affection and ends up feeling staid despite its endeavours to be the exact opposite.

With some films, an artistic approach is warranted and even contributes to the depths of the story, but in this case simplicity would have been better.

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