Why you should see it and what you can learn from it
It’s been now almost a week that I’ve watched Yorgos Lanthimos’ amazing movie The Favourite and I can’t stop thinking about the movie and its message – and here’s why:
In Short: The period drama, mixed with good comedy and laughter, tells the story about two cousins Sarah and Abigail, competing with each other over the heart of Queen Anne. Though their reasons do involve love for the Queen (in a romantic way), it is mainly about their own positions in the kingdom and power gained over Queen Anne’s political decisions.
Click here for more information
*spoiler warning/not sponsored*
What we can learn
About love: In the movie both, Sarah and Abigail, try to convince the Queen that their love for her is real. While Abigail does so by complimenting Queen Anne and never asking for a favour, Sarah is brutally honest and uses the trust of the Queen to support the Whig Party. Sarah does not back down and tells the Queen when her make-up isn’t right, when the Queen is acting “mad” and, to the chagrin of the Queen, Sarah shows little to no interest in the 17 rabbits, Queen Anne keeps as a replacement for her 17 lost children.
Yet, in a heart moving scene Sarah claims that this is love. That she might seems unfriendly, but she would never lie to the Queen and will always be there. Unlike Abigail, who would only say things that please the Queen, but do not have any deep meaning.
Queen Anne, however, chooses Abigail over Sarah, later realizing that this was a mistake and that Abigail certainly does not love the Queen as much as Sarah did.
Despite her blackmailing and influencing Queen Anne to support the Whig Party and the ongoing war with France, I think Sarah teaches us a valuable lesson about love.
In my past relationships I experienced that either I or my partner expected to have a fairy tale relationship. A relationship that is filled with compliments, harmony and only good words for one another. A partner, who unconditionally loves you and only sees your good sides. A love, that survives distance, jealousy and mistakes. Yet, this hardly ever represents the real world. Though the honeymoon phase gives you this amazing feeling inside, it’s a phase that cannot and will not last – thankfully. Humans are flawed and so are their relationships- and that is totally fine. Because truthfully, would you rather have your partner tell you when you look like a butcher because your makeup is all over the place or would you rather not know, even get a compliment and go out looking like that?
A good relationship builds on honesty and trust. And you want someone you can trust to tell you the truth no matter what. This doesn’t always have to be negative, but it is also true to compliments. I’d rather receive one honest compliment than thousands that do not mean a thing, because they were just said to be said.
Further, it is not fair putting your partner up to a responsibility to always represent a happily ever after. You’re not a prince or a princess living in paradise with singing birds – and as you can see, even Queen Anne wasn’t granted a fairy tale.
About self love: Reading other reviews of The Favourite, I came across a lot of people disliking Abigail – which I cannot understand. Even though she is the Queen of intrigues, I completely admire her. She’s the younger cousin of Sarah, yet, due to her fathers mistake, she is not a lady but just a maid. But Abigail isn’t satisfied with what she has become and is ambitious to work as hard as possible and, yes, to scheme and plot, just to be a lady again.
At the beginning she was very thankful towards Sarah for granting her a chance and providing Abigail with a job, so when she was asked by the competing party of the Whigs, she denied any help due to her unconditional loyalty to Sarah. Yet, she soon had to realize that her loyalty was not appreciated by Sarah and that there is no one to be trusted – except for herself.
As she approaches the political competitor of Sarah in order to make a deal, he asks if Abigail changed her side. Her answer still resonates with me: „I was always on my side, it just happens that what I want aligns with your needs“ (freely quoted). She later states again that she’s on her side, while shooting pigeons and blood drips on Sarah.
And this is power and self love perfectly combined. Something that everyone needs to remember. You have to be on no ones side, except for your own. Surely, this is no excuse for doing bad things and it should also not motivate you do bad things, just as Abigail poisoned her cousin, but it should be a reminder that in the end you should act and do things that are good for you. If you’re in a toxic relationship or in a situation, you’re not feeling well, you are allowed to change it – for your own sake. You should always cherish your own health and act in order to benefit you. Again, this does not mean that you should be egoistic and careless about others, but don’t grant people or things unconditional loyalty if it is toxic for you or even is holding you back. You should always strive to become better and satisfied with who you are, and in order to do so, you need yourself on your side. Don’t let people bring you down because they want you to be on their side, even though this would affect your success or health. Put yourself and your well-being always first and remember self love equals power to be the best version of yourself.
In conclusion: There is a lot to learn from these strong women portrayed in The Favourite. We learn that it is in our hand to determine our path, to reach our goals and to take care of ourselves. It is in our hand to be on our side. We learn that love is more than a fairy tale. Love is messy, love hurts, but it is honest. If it is only sunshine and flowers, it probably isn’t the real deal. And lastly, we learn that even a Queen isn’t granted a happily ever after since she was blinded by compliments and never trusted in herself but others.
For those who admire a strong female lead, (to a certain degree) role models, a great movie that leaves a lot of room for interpretation and is a masterpiece cinematographic-wise – just do yourself the favour and watch the Favourite!