By Liz Casanova
Starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Jessica Barden and John C. Reilly
Written by Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Running time 1h 59min
MPAA Rating R
Selig Film Rating Full Price
Back when I was young, wild and free, I worked for a little company called Match.com. The wizards of love were always trying to come up with new and interesting ways to bring people together. Perhaps they can take a little direction from Yorgos Lanthimos' new film The Lobster. The Dogtooth director creates a world where no one is allowed to be single. The only road to salvation is to find a match in the creepy hotel that offers a sort of marriage mart camp. Participants who fail to find a suitable partner are turned into the animal of their choice. Strange but effective.
David (Colin Farrell) is transported to the hotel after his wife leaves him. He decides that if he doesn't find a partner in the 45 days allotted, he will settle for becoming a lobster. Not a dog like his brother (who is his roommate). And thus the journey to finding "the one" begins. David is forced to participate in social activities like dances, pool time, hot tub time and theater that warns about the consequences of staying single. He makes friends with colorful characters like the Lisping Gent (John C. Reilly) and the Limping Man (Ben Whishaw). He considers pairing up with the Nosebleed Woman (Jessica Barden), the Heartless Woman (Angeliki Papoulia) or maybe, if he's desperate enough, the Biscuit Woman (Ashley Jensen).
David decides that his other half is probably not in that hotel and jets into the forest. The bad news is he has to join the outcasts – singles with their own ridiculous rules recited by the hawkish Loner Leader (Lea Seydoux). Luckily, he befriends the beautiful Short Sighted Woman (Rachel Weisz) and he knows she is the one. But life, even in an aberrant fantasy world, is not so storybook.
It was interesting listening to the comments by other audience members (who so generously provided their opinions during the film). They have clearly never seen Lanthimos' work. The shock of the absurd may have been too much for them to process. American audiences are conditioned to a particular format. Even more independent films made by US filmmakers follow certain formulas and ultimately play it safe. Watch Dogtooth. It's not safe. And it's a film that made me appreciate the artistic aspect of filmmaking. Watching The Lobster is like riding blindfold on a roller coaster. You have no idea where you're going and the surprises may make your brain feel a little funny. Lanthimos forces you to stop thinking and to stop looking for the safe "what's next." Instead he invites you to simply take the story as is and delight in the authentic and whimsical.
I love the performances. Farrell is so out of the box proving that he is still weighty when it comes to delivering roles so sui generis. And Weisz has such a magnetic presence with the ability to say a million things with one acute look. Every actor is a gilded character similar to something like the characters in Alice in Wonderland. We are so used to that story by now. But remember when you first read it or saw it? It was absolutely exotic. And that's what The Lobster is. Whereas Alice is an unconventional coming-of-age story. The Lobster is the most unconventional love story you will ever see on screen.
This immediately became one of my favorite films of 2016 and it's now playing in select US cities. For a list of showtimes, check out the official website.