Arts Review, Movies
Yorgos Lanthimos, director & co-script w/Efthymis Filippou
Starring: Colin Farrell (David), Rachel Weisz (Short Sighted Woman), John C. Reilly (Lisping Man), Lea Seydoux (Loner Leader). Ben Whishaw (Limping Man), Jessica Barden (Nosebleed Woman)
The winner of the Jury Prize at last year’s Cannes Festival and an official selection at TIFF 2015, The Lobster is an art house film set in a dystopian future. Colin Farrell plays David, a gloomy middle-aged man whose wife has left him. In the society imagined by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos making his English language debut, people like David, who have become single through abandonment or divorce or the death of a spouse, are given 45 days to get a new partner. They’re sent to a plush hotel and introduced to a group made up of similar singles and have to work hard to find a new mate.
Lanthimos scores satirical points by making the mating process extremely obvious. For example, a limping man (played with his usual cold but sincere manner by Ben Whishaw) can’t find anyone with his limitation so he decides to pretend to have nosebleeds like a young and attractive woman (Jessica Barden). As the Whishaw character explains to David, it’s better to bash your nose on a table every day than to run out of time and become an animal.
That’s right. You have 45 days to find another partner or be forced into being transformed into a creature of your choosing. David’s brother hadn’t found a partner at the hotel so he’d been turned into becoming a very nice dog—and is now his brother’s pet. David, who has to wear glasses, decided to become a lobster, a creature notable for its eyes and independence; hence, the film’s title.
The Lobster’s pace and setting changes in the film’s second half when David escapes the hotel and becomes part of the society of loners, people living in the woods, who deliberately eschew romance of any kind. He is befriended by the attractive and relentless leader (Lea Seydoux) but soon meets another shortsighted person, a flighty, imaginative and attractive woman played by Rachel Weisz. The two fall madly in love—and the joke is that their attraction isn’t due to their eyesight. Naturally, the path towards true love is riddled with potholes and vicious unexpected turns. This is, after all, a dystopian future.
The Lobster is the kind of art film that is labeled a comedy and praised to the skies—but you never laugh. Frankly, it feels like it should be a drama but you’re kept at a distance from the characters since the director wants you to be amused, not emotionally engaged. You neither laugh, nor cry. But it’s true that the film’s concept is intriguing and well handled by the director.
Should you see The Lobster? It’s a good film with an unsettling scenario. It won’t rock your world but you’ll be intrigued.