Release Date: November 23, 2018
Cast:  Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Studio: Scarlet Films; Element Pictures; Arcana; Film4 Productions; Waypoint Entertainment
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Spoilers: High
IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes | Wikipedia


Soooo, can anyone explain the ending of The Favourite to me?

Spoilers ahead – don’t read if you don’t want the entire ending of the movie dissected in as much excruciating detail as the actual final scene. Or, equally as excruciating as a high school literary analysis class discussing anything by James Joyce.

Okay, I’m legitimately asking: what the actual fuck happened at the end of this movie?
I was on board for the infantile queen, the courtly schemes, the clash between landed nobility and out-of-touch royalty. You got me. I’m all about Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz battling for their station and for their country (respectively). Everything was lovely. I loved the costumes, the ambiance, the dry dialogue.

This was exactly my kind of movie: a period drama with amazing actresses. I’m there. I am here for this movie. So believe me when I say that I was happily cruising along for the ride until Yorgos Lanthimos completely fucking lost me to go off the rails for a super awkward, lingering, leg stroking (pleasuring??) scene overlaid with restless bunny rabbits.
What the hell was that?

The whole last quarter of the movie dragged a bit long, especially without the Sarah/Abigail rivalry to keep it afloat. Without that dynamic, slowly, the film sank under the weight of Abigail’s manipulation and Anne’s mercurial outbursts.

Then came the stroking rabbits.

Leading up to that scene, Abigail (Emma Stone’s character) betrayed her true nature to Queen Anne – she started squeezing one of Anne’s pet rabbits under her heel. As the bunny screams, the Queen snaps out of her stupor to observe, and then calls Abigail to rub her leg.

Previously, the only other time we’ve seen Abigail massage Anne was when she snuck into her room to rub salve on her gouty legs before she progressed to doing hand stuff with her. Just prior, Sarah (Rachel Weisz’ character), had been banished from England after being accused by Abigail of embezzling funds from the crown.

The ending scene felt like a film and media studies students’ attempt at being literary. It was so discordant and jarring. I felt like there was some huge, important piece of symbolism that I completely missed that ruined an otherwise highly enjoyable movie. I just don’t get it.

From what I can cobble together, maybe it was symbolic of the relationship between Abigail and the rabbit, but now the role is reversed and Anne is torturing Abigail under her heel. Or maybe it was to symbolize how Abigail again trapped herself in the same cage with different trimmings.

It may symbolize her return to her previous life when her father gambled her away into sex servitude. Also, we don’t really know if Anne is getting sexually gratified in that long, horribly, horribly (a theater full of people sitting in confused silence and feeling vaguely dirty and uncomfortable) long end scene.

Abigail’s past interaction implies that she is pleasuring Anne, but Anne doesn’t emote at all. It may be that Anne discovered her own power, but the character transformation this late into the movie isn’t completely convincing. Also, the audience never really pins down Anne’s true nature until the latter half of the movie, so maybe this was a lesson on how power perverts people?

But what about the rabbits? They were named after Anne’s deceased children, but I’m not really sure where they fit in. Is Anne stuck in a child-like state referenced by the rabbits? Is Abigail a surrogate rabbit/child?

Regardless, there’s not enough to go on here and it is so frustrating.

I’m fine with a movie that leaves some threads hanging- you’re allowed to trust your audience to put in some work. I don’t need everything tied up nicely in an ending. Inception me. It’s fine. Spin your top. Was it all a dream? We don’t know? Cool. But don’t give me some horribly meaningful, convoluted, painful jumble of artistic, post-modern nonsense when the entire rest of the movie tonally didn’t have any of that vibe.

If it were Mother! or even The Beguiled, fine. Both of those movies leaned into this unresolved, plot-less fever dream of surrealism. But The Favourite never earned it. It was practicable and grounded throughout the entire film. You don’t get to spring a tonal shift with random ambiguity at me in the last two minutes and call it art. It’s pseudointellectual bullshit that’s fundamentally unfair to your audience. That’s not provocative. That’s not artistic. That’s just sloppy film-making.

18 thoughts on “The Favourite: Please Explain the Ending [Spoilers]”

  1. I agree that the ending is weird, but I think it’s in the same tone as the rest of the film. I think that in the end all three women now see that they are missing what they most wanted. There really was a real difference between Abigail and Sarah – that Sarah truly loved Anne, whereas love was just an instrument to gain power for Abigail. For Anne, trading Sarah for Abigail really hurt her as she lost the only person who actually cared for her. At first, it seemed to Anne that Abigail would just be a more joyful, hotter, better version of Sarah – basically fill her role with more fun (I love her tongue inside me) and no drawbacks from a long, real history together. So I think it’s important that Anne doesn’t look happy or pleased at all in the end – she now knows that Abigail is but her fluffy pet – and like all pets, can offer no truthful insight to Anne. She needed to be told the truth – that her appetites were self destructive, that she sometimes looked like a badger, and that her fragility was hurting her. So sometimes we get what we think we want, but not what we actually need. AND BUNNIES!

  2. The rabbits are what Anne sees as her losses multiplying before her mind’s eye. In an earlier scene she had told Godolphin (the former prime minister) that losses only accumulated as life went on and all one could do was accommodate them. Once she realized Abigail’s true nature she also came to realize how potent was her loss of Sarah.

  3. The rabbits are what Anne sees as her losses multiplying before her mind’s eye. In an earlier scene she had told Godolphin (the former prime minister) that losses only accumulated as life went on and all one could do was accommodate them. Once she realized Abigail’s true nature she also came to realize how potent was her loss of Sarah.

  4. This is absolutely spot on. Although it does kind of feel like they just ran out of film at the end, it’s that final tonal shift that’s most maddening for me. Any time you see a film trying that hard to be arty and meaningful at the end you know something has gone wrong. Even though it still would’ve been frustrating, I would have rather they just ended it with the simple final scene of Abigail and Anne without all of the triple exposure nonsense that felt so inorganic to everything that had come before.

  5. Anne the “infantile” queen was actually Anne the woman driven into insanity after losing 17 children. If I lost one of my children, I’d be looking for the nearest tall building.

    Just saw the movie yesterday. That protracted ending was Anne, still mired in misery, and Abigail perhaps hearing Sarah’s words — “Do you really think you won?” That was Abigail’s “triumph” at the end. And the rabbits were Anne’s losses, multiplying (as rabbits do).

    The big surprise at the end, for me, was hearing an ancient Elton John song I’d forgotten. So I LOVED the ending of this movie.

  6. Anne’s 17 children all died in childbirth or soon after, and each of her 17 pet rabbits is a memorial.

    “Everyone leaves me and dies,” she laments at one point.

    As the movie ends, she has an 18th rabbit (Abigail), in memoriam of Sarah.

    She grips Sarah tightly by her hair, dominating her, and her other rabbits are juxtaposed. I think the intent is pretty clear.

  7. What an horrendous ending! 10 minutes sitting confused as to what was going on by the leg rubbing to then watch the credits appear on my screen, what on earth happened! Absolute shambles of an ending!

  8. I don’t agree. The ending is symbolic and meaningful.
    It all makes perfect sense if we make parallels with the modern state of politics and power in the western world.
    We see how the conservatives (Sarah / republicans / toris etc.) are losing power to the left / populism (Abigail). Both are cynical, all care for themselves, whatever said. Perhaps Sarah looks a bit better in this story: at least she is calling things straight (yet only until she has to deal with Abigail).
    Anne seems to symbol the country (the people?). In its present state: seriously ill, unable to critically judge / analyse, happy with any small pain relief. Very much the modern electorate, isn’t it?
    Relationships between Sarah / Abigail (politicians) and Anne (people): it’s fake love, shameless and cynical pleasing and a lot of abuse.
    And the ending: you can only abuse up to a certain limit. Even half blind, half-mute peoples can nail you, if you cross it.

    And, of course, it’s a visual and artistic feast

  9. Their faces overlap because even though they’re together, they’re not looking at each other or thinking about each other. You can see that both of them are thinking about Sarah. Anne is missing her (we lead up to this with her forlorn demands for the letter she’s expecting from her). Abigail is thinking “Oh, crap- Sarah DID win- she got out, & I’m trapped here doing the same thing I was doing before: abasing myself & giving sexual favors to survive.” Rabbits are vulnerable prey animals (as Abigail just reminded us) & so are these two: each of them has been / continues to be prey to the other two. I didn’t think it was that tonally different from the rest of the film; the anachronistic dialogue, crazy dancing, and insistent fisheye and low angle shots were pretty clearly absurdist & contemporary…

  10. What you’re missing, and what very few critics are highlighting is the overt female empowerment (and emasculated males) in the film. This takes particularly interesting form through the use of the C-word…which has a multiplicity of meanings. As male-centric culture uses euphemisms for the penis as symbolic of power, so here does female empowered culture own the C-word as a symbol of dominance. The scene which is so confounding to you is multifaceted. There is of course the subserviant position Abigail has fought so hard to attain and the resolute Catherine who will continue to exact the remnance of her own pain onto Abigail…each now understands their role and are locked in a cycle of sadness. But moreover, the ‘C-word’ here now becomes both the object of power and the cycle of pain which brought 17 ruined pregnancies. This film was the ultimate declaration of the power of the pussy.

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