"The Lobster" is a romantic science fiction/black comedy about coupling, loneliness and the possibility of getting changed from a human into an animal. Singularly strange, sad and hopeful, there has never really been anything like this movie and probably never will be again.
Colin Farrell plays David, a doughy, depressed man whose wife has just left him. He leaves The City and heads to The Hotel, where he has 45 days to be partnered up with someone new or else he must become an animal (of his choice) for the rest of his life. In the woods surrounding The Hotel are The Loners: people who were unable to be matched in 45 days, but escaped The Hotel before being transformed into an animal. Each day, the singles from The Hotel are sent into the woods with tranquilizer guns to hunt The Loners. For each one they catch, they have one day added to their stay.
This premise is not going to be for everyone (as evidenced by the two women sitting in front of me, complaining the entire time about how "weird" everything was). Sadly, if the film is completely dismissed because of how outlandish the premise is, a very potent and powerful story brimming with universal truths will also be discarded.
The point of truly exceptional science fiction or speculative fiction is to put modern ideas about life, philosophy and truth into a bizarre locale to see if those truths still hold steady. Think "Blade Runner" which is bursting with singular imagery and style, but it's all in service to a story focused on lonely and isolated "people" wondering what it is to be human.
"The Lobster" is a bitingly satirical look at a society obsessed with coupling off and the sad and lonely nature of being single. The amount of hell these characters put themselves through in order to find a mate is staggering, with one character going so far as to bash himself in the face daily in order to pair with a pretty woman who has regular nosebleeds. In this world, people are only compatible if they share a trait like nosebleeds, near-sightedness or a defining limp. To love here is to sacrifice all individuality for harmonious coupledom.
Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos has a few other bizarre films under his belt with "Dogtooth" and "Alps," but "The Lobster" is his English language debut. The film doesn't just feel like it comes from a foreign viewpoint, but an alien world. Where "Dogtooth" focused on the importance of trust and the malleability of language, "The Lobster" is a Kafka-esque deep sea dive into the narrative that gets us out of bed in the morning.
Farrell put on some weight, added a nerdy haircut and glasses and captures the loneliness of a man who just wants to be loved, not for who he is, but for the things he has in common. The humor is so dry and his performance so deadpan that it might be one of the finest comedic performances of the year.
Every frame of the film is lovingly constructed with a flawless eye. The thematic layering is so dense as to beg the viewer for multiple chances to unfold its secrets. "The Lobster" isn't necessarily an easy film to watch, but it is ultimately a rewarding one filled with sharp jabs at Tinder culture, the art of co-dependence and the virtuousness of being alone.
Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos
Now playing at Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX