Colin Farrell seeks the one before his life as a human takes a very animalistic turn. In this highly imaginative, delightfully absurdist comedy from visionary director Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Lobster”, stars Colin Farrell as David, a man who has just been dumped by his wife. To make matters worse, David lives in a society where single people have 45 days to find true love, or else they are turned into the animal of their choice and released into the woods. David is kept at the mysterious hotel while he searches for a new partner, and after several romantic misadventures decides to make a daring escape to abandon this world. He ultimately joins up with a rebel faction known as The Loners, a group founded on a complete rejection of romance. But once there, David meets an enigmatic stranger (Rachel Weisz) who stirs up unexpected and strong feelings within him… At once a full immersion into a strange and surreal world, and a witty and clever reflection of our own society, “The Lobster” is rated R for sexual content, including dialogue, and remote violence.
“The Lobster” prides itself on being a twistedly dark satire on modern day dating, and for a first act it comes out firing on all cylinders, providing a rich underlying of amusing wit to play against a refreshing direction. The film then abandons this concept about midway through for a change in tone that is every bit as muddled as it is depressing. Lanthimos’s thought-provoking satiricals work best when the film carries with it a sense of humor, and that lack is what really took me out of this movie during the last half hour. What does work positvely for the film however, is a brilliant decision to use natural lighting in the movie, laying emphasis on this dystopian setting, as well as camera framing and shots that are eye-appeasing. There are also some pretty notable lead performances which I will get to later. Yorgos certainly had great ideas here, but it’s unfortunate that it all comes to a halt by credits roll.
First of all, you should take this kind of movie more as a deeper meaning project by the director, as many situations and rules might feel ridiculous at face value. Some of the genius metaphors that I spotted for the movie analyze to the audience a society in our own real world that stresses the importance of being with someone, and how the single crowds are being phased out. The hotel in the film can easily be taken as life itself, considering the guests have 45 days to find a potential mate, as well as the multi-step plans for the couples future ahead being layed out for them like an army of drones being marched to the slaughter. The woods in the film clearly represent the single crowds who decide that dating doesn’t feel comfortable to them. This explains why they are cast out and hunted by the hotel’s flock. They simply don’t fit this life plan, so they have no place among the happy couples. Another brilliant metaphor comes in early scenes of the movie when Colin Farrell is checking in, and the supervisor tells him to choose between gay or straight. This is obviously a poke at society’s demand that everyone abide by the divisions that THEY have set forth. All of these metaphors present a dark cloud over concepts that we overlook everyday. We can’t expect someone else to be happy in a relationship just because we are, and Lanthimos provides self-reflective material that turns the mirror around on his audience.
The comedic material is dark in humor, but works perfectly with sarcastic brilliance among the rules of dating within this world. As I mentioned before, it’s kind of disappointing that all of the humorous material in the film happens in the trailers seen in this movie. This gives “The Lobster” a kind of feel in tone opposite to what they were expecting heading into the movie. I found the end of the second and the entirety of the third act quite uneven with the synergetic pacing of the film’s first 45 minutes. The hotel is kind of forgotten as a whole, leaving our characters without a big brother antagonist to defy against.
As for performances, the movie offers a lot of variety. So much so that many characters don’t have actual names, but descriptions such as “Short Sighted Girl”, “Lisp Guy” or “Limping Guy”. The obvious intention to point out the shallow intentions of people judging a person by a noticeable trait is certainly hinted at by Lanthimos, but the movie still supplies some very noteworthy performances. Farrell continues to accept against-the-grain roles to noteworthy praise, and his David is certainly no exception. Colin captivates silently but deadly against the very complexities of finding “The one”, and his stone-faced delivery for the ever-changing dating landscapes around him is what invited me in to a film with truly one of the strangest plots i’ve ever read. Rachel Weisz is visually only in the second half of the movie, but her vocally robotic narrations throughout the film actually set a nice tone to the movie’s dark humor. When Weisz does show up, the chemistry between her and Farrell combine to make a couple with some emotional depth in a world without it. I legitimately found myself rooting for their triumphs and disappointed during their failures. Their union together will certainly provide the kind of roller coaster emotionally to the audience, if you find yourself able to get through the slow periods.
Overall, “The Lobster” is a little overrated from the mostly positive feedback that it has garnered, but the film’s artistic merits certainly more than live up to the kind of Orwell-ian landscape that Yormos constructs for his audience. Embrace the strange and give “The Lobster” a chance if you seek more hidden meaning in your films.