The Favourite works in an idiosyncratic register that distills his austere and sometimes brutal gaze to darkly comic effect. Here, he reimagines the period piece as an acerbic battleground of wits, where no behavior, interaction, or pastime is too eccentric or primal.
The crowning achievement of this drama is the game and invigorating performance of Regina Williams, from her flinty exasperation to her no-guff candor to her sly, self-protective sarcasm. Hers is a performance suffused with compassion yet devoid of cheap and easy sentiment.
To begin with, designed as a one-director anthology film, it picks up and disposes of various narrative threads rather than staying with the same plotline or plotlines (or absence of plot) throughout. Secondly, it depends almost not at all on real-time duration to fill itself out.
While there are many aspects binding Transit to Barbara and Phoenix (including an oppressive system, embodied here by the vagaries of international migration in wartime), Petzold is working in a slightly different register; it is at once more rigorously conceptual and less sociopolitically specific than its predecessors.