Country: Great Britain, Ireland, Greece, France, Netherlands
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Cast: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Leah Seydoux, Ben Wishaw, John C. Reily, Olivia Colman
Genre: comedy, drama, romance
Runtime: 119 min.
A love story set in a dystopian near future where single people are arrested and transferred to a creepy hotel
Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos is famous for his unique tone as a filmmaker. Pitched somewhere between Luis Bunuel and Larry David, his style combines small behavioural comedy and twisted surrealism with darkly cynical edge. The Lobster, the director’s first film in English, is as nutty and insightful and entertaining as anything he’s ever made.
Colin Farrell stars as a recently single man in a world that’s outlawed living alone. Singles are rounded up and sent to a hotel run by Olivia Coleman who explains the benefits of finding a spouse through a variety of weird techniques. Predictably, everyone is hopelessly awkward and seeks out a mate based purely on a single shared trait or flaw. Unable to even talk his way to success with any of the available women, Farrell forms friendships with a lisping John C. Reilly and a limping Ben Whishaw. But the catch is: anyone who doesn’t find a mate at the hotel after 45 days will be turned into an animal and set free.
Eventually Farrell escapes and ends up in the woods with a gang of single outlaws led by Lea Seydoux. They all live in the woods and share a sense of community bonded through electronic music. It’s here that Rachel Weisz’s previously unseen narrator is finally introduced in the flesh. Since she is near-sighted like Farrell, they instantly fall for each other even though they need to keep their affair a secret from the other singles.
The Lobster is a pretty brilliant satire of society’s obsession with coupling, exaggerated to surreal lengths while still hitting moments that feel frightfully real. Lanthimos and his cast find just the right balance between the comedic, surreal, and dramatic potential of the concept, with seemingly every scene see-sawing from one tone to the next in a way that keeps viewers constantly off balance. Farrell plays painfully awkward surprisingly well (with lots of help from his moustache), while Reilly is so good that it’s a shame he doesn’t have a larger part. Lanthimos’ camera holds back from an objective distance throughout, allowing the actors to play out scenes as if there’s an invisible wall between them, preventing anything that even resembles warm human contact from occurring.
Overall, The Lobster is a wonderfully weird experience with surprisingly emotional heft, a masterpiece of bleakly comedic absurdism.
Awards & Festivals:
Cannes Film Festival – Jury Prize, Palm Dog Award, Special Mention