The Lobster (2015)
Editor’s Note: The following review is part of our coverage of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. For more information please visit www.festival-cannes.com/en or follow the Cannes Film Festival on Twitter.
Yorgos Lanthimos returns to the Croisette after winning the Un Certain Regard prize for his bizarre feature Dogtooth back in 2009. This year the Greek director moves up in the ranks of the festival by competing for the Palme d’Or with his star-studded English-language dystopian love story The Lobster that can also ironically be described as a satire of our relationship and dating-obsessed society where couplehood represents the superior way of life.
…[The Lobster] can also ironically be described as a satire of our relationship and dating-obsessed society where couplehood represents the superior way of life.
Colin Farrell stars in Lanthimos’s black comedy as David, the main protagonist who is forced to move to a match-making institution when he is left by his wife and facing solitude. At The Hotel, a ridiculously strict and overly controlled institution, he is supposed to find a suitable partner within 45 days. If he succeeds, he will be able to move back home to The City with his new partner but if he fails to fall in love, he will be transformed into an animal of his choice: a lobster.
A single person can not be considered as being part of this absurd society and is therefore rejected and shut out of any human interaction. The only other option besides finding a partner at The Hotel or being transformed into an animal, is leading a risky life in The Woods as a so called Loner. To lead this opposing lifestyle, people have to escape The Hotel and risk their lives on a regular basis during the hunt - a morbid ritual of The Hotel, where Singles go hunting for Loners in the forest in order to expand their stay at the institution. With every Loner they kill they earn an extra day and have the possibility to increase the chances of finding a suitable partner.
While The Woods seems to be a place of freedom compared to The Hotel, it turns out to be just another extreme community with strange rules. Through David, the audience is introduced to both modes of living. At first, he is forced to find a partner during weird dating events at The Hotel and punished when he is not acting according to their rules and regulations. If someone is caught masturbating, that person might end up with his right hand stuck in a toaster for example, just to learn a valuable lesson. Once David rejects the idea of finding a partner by force or leading a doomed life as a lobster, he manages to escape the institution to live in The Woods where he finds himself caught in different regime. The Lone Leader (Léa Seydoux) of The Woods does not tolerate any human interaction including flirtation. Unfortunately, it is at exactly this lonesome place where David falls in love with the Short Sighted Woman (Rachel Weisz).
Despite all the weirdness, David and the Short Sighted Woman complete each other in this strange society, also thanks to the unique performances by Farrell and Weisz.
The two contrasting worlds offer many comical, yet very awkward situations that are underlined by dry humor and satirical elements. The interaction between the characters is exaggerated through cold and distant behavior, mechanic and clumsy body language and movement. It is a lot of fun to watch these characters act similar to robots, when they are supposed to interact in the most human ways according to The Hotel for example. Despite all the weirdness, David and the Short Sighted Woman complete each other in this strange society, also thanks to the unique performances by Farrell and Weisz.
The Lobster definitely benefits from its witty screenplay, co-written by Efthimis Filippou and Yorgos Lanthimos, with its absurd and comical setting, the dry humored and sharp dialogues and its eccentric characters but also from the intentionally monotonous, mechanic performances by its actors.