The Lobster is not an easy film. It’s a twisted look at humanity and love in what may be one of the most emotionally wrenching comedies I've seen in recent times. Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos has made a career from absurdist film making and The Lobster see’s him assemble Hollywood heavyweights Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz and John C Reilly for another trip into the bizarre and harrowing.
The Lobster sees a near future where single people are taken from normal life and placed into a hotel where they are encouraged to find a partner within 45 days of they will be turned into an animal and released into the forest. David (Farrell) has just arrived at the hotel after his wife has left him with his brother who has already been turned into a dog after a failed visit to the hotel. David and the other guests of the hotel take in a daily hunt of an underground resistance in an effort to extend their stay at the hotel. As David looks to settle himself into life in the hotel, he realises that he may need to compromise to avoid becoming a lobster. While this covers the premise of the film, it is the tip of the iceberg as the film twists and turns to its final seconds.
The concept behind the film is very engaging. We are quickly swept up in a comedic look at loneliness and isolation in a modern world. Black comedy runs thick throughout the first half of the film as tragic characters in a tragic setting interact. As the film goes on what stands out about the ideas in the film are how close to reality they could be. With society villainising spinsters and online dating throwing up algorithm based love, we are living in a world that could easily look to industrialize partnerships and condemn those who can’t find their match. From the first frame of The Lobster to the last I was wondering what would happen next. A truly fresh story with an off-kilter
The Lobster deals in misery. Its subject matter is sombre and dark (despite being humorous) and as the film continues on it drags on you, despair and hopelessness setting in (despite some humour). Misery isn’t bad by itself. Films can entertain in many ways. What makes The Lobster’s sadness off putting is how it looks to potentially derail an inventive tale. In the end though, as long as you aren’t looking for a family fun time it’s a deeper thinking piece that needs a bit of weight behind it.
There are a few iconic shots in The Lobster that easily held my imagination. A scene of a couple saying goodbye to a friend turned into a shetland pony, another in which Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz communicate in complex sign language to heartwarming effect and a slow motion montage of a human hunt that captures an animalistic brutality and vulnerability. But ultimately it is the early scenes in the hotel that win my heart. As we are shown this new world concept, each new hotel guest is made to stand up in front of their peers and introduce themselves. The scene is sterile, unnerving, hilarious but entirely relatable. We have all had to publicly speak but in this case, it really is a life or death situation.
It is always a joy to see a director create their clear vision on the screen. There seems to be no filter here, Lanthimos has written and directed The Lobster with no thought of audience appeal. It is an unnerving work of art that will haunt my thoughts for both its honesty and its harrowing depiction of a not so distant future. Farrell and Weisz are both captivating and are ably supported in a film which is as visually grey as its outlook. I would recommend The Lobster to anyone who enjoys to be challenged by the media they consume.