Plot: David (Colin Farrell) is recently divorced and as per the social requirement, he finds himself at a remote hotel, where he must find a new partner within 45 or face an odd fate. The hotel has collected numerous other single people and whoever fails to connect with a new mate in that time frame, will be transformed into the animal of their choice. He makes a couple new friends and while he feels downbeat about his current lot in life, David continues to follow the hotel’s program and he tries to meet a new woman, with lackluster results. The various instructional events and social gatherings begin to weigh on him as time keeps counting down, to the point he decides that perhaps he should feign interest in someone. But can he find any kind of connection before his time expires, or will he wind up as a lobster?
Entertainment Value: This is a wild one, a dark, surrealistic, and masterful social satire that is ruthless and brilliant in equal measures. The premise is a strange, highly creative one and director Yorgos Lanthimos builds a familiar, but twisted world inhabited by some memorable characters. The film’s world is crafted with great care, with all kinds of small details that hint at the larger social picture, but keep the wider world veiled from just enough. Given the oddities we witness in The Lobster, I wish I could find out more about the rest of the social order of things, but what we do see is wild, while still rooted at times in real life. So while it sounds absurd in the movie when the hotel assigns a child to new couples having some issues, this is indeed the approach some real life couples take. This holds true of a lot of the relationship deconstruction elements, they seem beyond absurd and surreal within the framework of The Lobster, but are present in real life, established social behaviors. I think the writing is fantastic, with razor sharp dialogue and interactions, which allows the characters to have depth and provide some unforgettable interactions. While I think The Lobster is a smart, hilarious movie, I can see how the deadpan, absurd approach could alienate or outright baffle some viewers, without question. But for fans of Lanthimos’ work or those who appreciate dark, surreal cinema, The Lobster is highly recommended.
This kind of material has to be a real challenge as a performer, as the content is so unusual and Lanthimos directs his stars to be act in peculiar ways, but the cast here really embraces his unique style. Colin Farrell has the lead and nails the deadpan delivery the material requests, which made it no surprise when he returned in Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer, another absurd and surreal experience. Here Farrell shines when in exchanges with his costars, thanks to having a knack for this offbeat style of dialogue and lack of reaction. But he is able to convey a lot in the more solitary moments as well. He also gained a good deal of weight for the role, so Farrell was all in and showed up to perform at a high level. Angeliki Papoulia manages to steal some scenes however, as the heartless woman and she makes the most of her rather limited screen time. I would have liked to have seen more of her character, especially with a wider base of interactions. The cast also includes Rachel Weisz, Ashley Jensen, John C. Reilly, and Lea Seydoux.