Move Review: The Lobster
Society has come up with all sorts of ways to answer the problem of loneliness through the years. Speed dating, Tinder and Paddy McGuinness’s Take Me Out are three of the most recent and most brutal methods invented. In The Lobster this idea is taken to its logical (or perhaps illogical conclusion). The black comedy focuses on Colin Farrell’s character David’s stay at a hotel in which guests are required to partner up after a limited period of time or else face being turned into an animal of their choice (for David, it’s the titular crustacean). This premise sets the tone well for what is a quite bizarre film in every respect.
The Lobster is a refreshing antidote to the conveyor belt of rom coms studios turn out year after year in which coupledom is the only way to happiness for the unlucky-in-love protagonist. In such films, our beautiful hero usually ends up with a suitably attractive mate and everyone can breathe easy come the final credits. In The Lobster, you will doing anything but breathing easy at the final credits.
Neither, can we describe any of our heroes as beautiful in this stark, overcast world which writer/director Yorgos Yanthimos has created, devoid of make-up, bright colours or any Hollywood sheen. Colin Farrell is carrying some weight as David who exits his marriage and enters the hotel with his dog (his brother transformed after a stay in the resort a year previous) to quickly meet a cast of desperate hopefuls looking to find a partner or alternatively successfully hunt a ‘loner’ in the forest to buy themselves extra days as human beings.
Yes, the plot is absurd but works wonderfully in mirroring society’s obsession with coupling up. The stylised unnatural and stilted dialogue serves to amp up the awkwardness of the whole affair to hilarious effect. Farrell’s subtle performance can be added to his already impressive CV of comic performances and supporting actors Olivia Coleman, Ben Whishaw and Rachel Weisz are equally terrific.
There are swipes at social norms all the way through as couples who manage to find each other are advised they will be given kids “as this usually fixes things”, characters hopelessly fake personality traits in a bid to be paired up and relationships are unnaturally speeded up as they approach their last days as humans. This could all come across as a sneering satire on the mainstream but the expertly applied humour and stylish direction save The Lobster from being too knowing.
There’s little in the way of emotion in The Lobster but you are still gripped by David’s plight throughout as the jarring music keeps you sitting uncomfortably. This is possibly not the film for fans of Love Actually or anything with Gerard Butler in it, but for those who want a genuinely funny film which is unique, very dark and clever, it is a winner.