The Favourite(2019) by Yorgos Lanthimos
Dark humour, strong sexual undertones, odd characters in odd situations, and invoking an overriding unsettling feeling; Like all Yorgos Lanthimos' films, The Favourite checks all these boxes too.
The Favourite depicts a power struggle between newly appointed maid Abigail and Lady Sarah Churchill for the affection of an attention-hungry Queen Anne in 18th century England. As Abigail arrives at the Queen’s palace, she is an underdog who uses her wit and manipulation to snuggle her way into the Queen’s favour and bed, acting as a wedge in her relationship with her childhood companion Sarah.
Though relieved with the dark comedy underlying the entire film, The Favourite is overall rather unsettling: with Lanthimos' use of the disorienting fish-eye lens, bleak colouring, and a fleeting score. However, in true ‘Lanthimosian’ fashion, this unnerving tone doesn’t go unwarranted.
The Favourite, above all else, is a story of realisation. A realisation of the truth that the rank of the two competitors lies at the mercy of an immature Queen and her malleable opinion. Though they may tilt the axis in their favour, their station and power are never guaranteed as it will always lie in the hands of a capricious mind driven by a hunger for affection.
Even after their many manipulations, as one rises in the ranks as the other falls from grace, their future is never fully perceivable, and therefore a source of restlessness. An unsettling restlessness, therefore, drives this entire film.