Editor’s Notes: The following review is part of our coverage of the 2015 Fantastic Fest. For more information on the festival visit fantasticfest.com and follow Fantastic Fest on Twitter at @fantasticfest.
Weird, heart-felt and grounded in reality, The Lobster is one hell of an experience on the big screen. In this world, single people must attend a hotel to find a partner. They’re given 45 days to find love, otherwise they turn into the animal of their choice. David (Colin Farrell) chooses a lobster for his animal. The hotel manager (Olivia Colman) tells a funny joke about why a certain animal is popular. The Lobster is a deliciously dark satire with beautiful pacing and an outstanding ensemble cast.
The film is an extreme examination of relationships. Most of us have been on the outside looking in when it comes to being alone or being in a relationship. Loneliness is a terrible feeling. There are times when it feels like society places more stock in couples and treats singles like a deformed mutant. Ever been to a restaurant or movie alone? For some it’s not a problem, for others it’s a social nightmare! Director and co-writer Yorgos Lanthimos toys with the social unpleasantries of being single. The hotel hosts workshops that include the dangers of being a single woman walking alone. The audience is treated to a hysterical demonstration, followed by an equally hysterical demonstration of a married woman walking with her husband.
The Lobster is a deliciously dark satire with beautiful pacing and an outstanding ensemble cast.
There are many rules in the hotel. For example, men are not permitted to masturbate. How do they keep track of that? We’ll leave that to your imagination, but the demonstration makes sense in this twisted world. Certain grounds are off limits to single people. Couples receive a larger wardrobe, better eating arrangements, larger rooms — a better life. The first act establishes why it’s important to get into a relationship: find someone or become an animal. Losing what makes us human is a terrifying thought!
Hotel guests can extend their stay by capturing stray single people in the woods by hunting them with tranquilizer rifles. The hunting sequences are wickedly funny because single people are treated like animals; hence they will be turned into animals once captured. It’s heartbreaking to get to know a character and see them fail and become an animal. Animals are cute and all, it’s just so sad to realize that person watched their last film, had their last person to person conversation, and so on.
As the film progresses the audience learns what it’s like for single people on the run. Much like the uppity couples, they have their own set of rules that have extreme punishments. Where does that leave our characters in this film? Can’t find a partner so they run away from society. If they find someone in the wild, what then? At the heart of these questions lies a lot of truth in reality. The dynamics involved with couples are so relatable. One character lives a lie so that he can convince his partner that they have something in common. How many relationships start out that way? It’s going to be different for everyone, but who hasn’t pretended they love something they secretly hate?
The dark humor in this film keeps up the pace of the film. The pain of being alone is an easier pill to swallow when there’s laughter involved. There were moments in the film when I couldn’t tell whether I should laugh or cry so I settled on something in between. The tonal shifts are a slap in the face, but turn the other cheek because you’re in for something new in the next scene.
The world-building is easy to get into. The dialogue is amusing and the direction is unflinching.
The Lobster is so effective thanks to a lean, razor sharp script. The world-building is easy to get into. The dialogue is amusing and the direction is unflinching. For this film to work, everyone involved has to be all in without looking back. It’s refreshing to witness a unique film like The Lobster.
The stellar cast has Farrell at the helm, as David. Davis is a push-over, lacks confidence and is not that attractive. Yes, that’s right - they made Farrell look like a regular guy! Farrell’s performance is completely naked, placing him in such a fragile position through the film. The trust between Farrell, Lanthimos and the supporting cast is a wonderful feat to accomplish. It’s easy to root for David and his friends. Is there a David within us all? Once again, all relatable things in this film.
The Lobster is the kind of film to recommend to anyone who mutters the dreadful phrase, “Hollywood has run out of ideas.” Those people are watching the wrong kind of movies, they should be watching more of the likes of this gem. The Lobster is a thought-provoking, madly entertaining film. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be glad you signed up to watch this terrific movie.
The Lobster is a thought-provoking, madly entertaining film.