Why The Favourite Doesn't Have A Traditional Villain

Photo: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight.
There are three protagonists in Yorgos Lanthimos' captivating, and completely unique drama, The Favourite. Throughout the course of the film, the audiences' "favorite" character changes as quickly as the Queen's affections, and that's the point. We go from trusting one of the film's fascinating ladies, to pitying another, to judging a third. Without spoiling the nuanced and complicated relationship between the three leads, I'll tell you this: While each of the women may be cruel in their own way, there's no true, traditional villain in the film. And it's so refreshing.
In a new clip, exclusively premiering here on Refinery29, Lanthimos explains his choice to highlight the complexity of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), the Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz), and Abigail Hill (Emma Stone) by making them all the heroes, and anti-heroes, of their own stories. They're not evil — they're just ambitious.
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"I had the idea of making a film with three women as main protagonists," he says. "Complexity was the number one thing that we wanted to achieve with the three main characters... I didn't want to have the villain and the victim. I wanted all these things to shift and change and go from one to the other." Emma Stone agrees with the director, remarking that all the characters "all have our reasons for what we're doing."
While this decision to not have a clear "favorite" is a play on the title and overall themes of the film, it also feels extremely important in 2018, where many headline-making female performances are still that of a mother or wife. While all performances are still valid, and nuanced, it feels outstanding to witness such shrewdness from three women in control of their own narratives, messy as they may be.
Check out the clip below, and see The Favourite in theaters now.

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