MovieChat Forums > The Favourite (2018) Discussion > I'm hearing a lot about Sarah's tough bu...

I'm hearing a lot about Sarah's tough but true love for Anne versus Abigail's scheming and manipulation. Except...

I'm hearing a lot of comments about how Sarah truly loved Anne, making sure her comments to the queen were truthful and genuine as opposed to Abigail's rosy words to the queen which were in fact all trickery and attempts to gain her favor. While this is partly true, a lot of the comments and reviews I've read use that idea to imply that Sarah was the better person at the end of the day, especially when people discuss the ending and tend to get sympathetic to Sarah's plight and thrown off by Abigail's moment with the rabbit (which certainly sticks in the mind). I do not agree with that reading. Both women were involved in the dirty power play. Not only that, but it was Sarah who in fact instigated the war between the two women when she perceived Abigail as a threat to her own status at the queen's side.

I'm not going to mount a defense of Abigail's character as a whole throughout the movie, who was certainly guilty on many counts, but I want to defend the fact that Sarah's initial actions were more questionable.

Abigail was not hostile to Sarah in the beginning. She was taken aback by the sight of Sarah getting intimate with her queen but what she saw simply motivated her to try to be in that position herself. She can't be blamed for that: If it was fair play for Sarah, it should be fair play for her. She decided to become a contestant, not to directly hurt Sarah. In contrast to that, when it's Sarah's turn to be taken aback by the sight of Abigail and Anne in bed together, she doesn't decide to try to win back the queen's favour. She decides to directly attack Abigail and use her power to cast her out and send her back to unemployment and poverty without a second thought. It's at this point that Abigail sees that Sarah is a forceful enemy who will not stand the competition. Of course, following this, they each use all kinds of means to eliminate each other and it can be said that Abigail is the more treacherous and cold-hearted of the pair from that point on (albeit stemming from fears of her enemy's potential retaliations). But people seem to overlook Sarah's initial forcing of Abigail's hand, and her fierce hold onto power.


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I don't know that Sarah ever showed Anne any genuine affection. According to the film (rather than history), her goal was to rule England as she saw fit, and Anne was both her highway to rule and a roadblock. So she'd already steamrolled Anne into giving her the powers of the monarch "in the queen's name", but whenever Anne tried to do her job and actually meet an ambassador or something, Sarah bullied her out of it and called it "honesty", and left her with nothing to do but overeat and have embarrassing public breakdowns.

Yes, there were the good times, the playfulness in the corridors and the bedroom, but I don't know if that was real love or just a means to an end.


I think Sarah had love for Anne, but also craved political power and was certainly abusive; it looked like an abusive relationship to me. She gaslit Anne, belittled her, bullied her, and was generally very mean-spirited. So, while I agree: Sarah was in love with Anne, I think she was still an awful person.

Abigail, on the other hand, was motivated by personal social ladder-climbing, but once at the peak, I don't think she would have continued to bully Anne in the same way.

So: bullying with love, or manipulation with indifference/ spite? Who's worse?

Anne, remember, could also be petty, selfish, and horrid. But she evoked sympathy because she was being used and abused (plus a lot of her selfishness came from her upbringing).

Sarah also was wielding political power she wasn't supposed to have by birth or election. Abigail was spiteful, too (the rabbit's neck).

One of the things I love about the film is its ability to present a balanced triangle, people who behave badly but who aren't unsympathetic, either. It's a wonderful film.


Just remember Sarah is a friend from childhood. And the first thing she did was act to protect Anne -- who does love and rely on her, regardless of if the reverse is true.

God, I feel terrible for all of them. What an awful thing to be a woman then!