“The Lobster” (2016)

lobsterThe Lobster 

Director:  Yorgos Lanthimos
Writer(s):  Efthymis Filippou and Yorgos Lanthimos
Cast: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Lea Seydoux, John C. Reilly, Ashley Jensen

Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely liked “The Lobster”.

Love the notion of an alt-reality where being single is a crime against society and I think director Lanthimos and his co-scenarist have presented us with an original and entertaining motion picture. What can you say about a movie that opens with a woman emerging from her vehicle, stalking into a field and shooting a grazing donkey dead? The gesture seems vicious, insane…until about twenty minutes later when you begin to get an inkling of the depth of her pain and misery.

The film is courageously underplayed—Colin Farrell is restrained, almost monotonic—plot bends and twists introduced matter-of-factly, routinely. The single people residing at the Hotel have forty-five days to find a compatible life partner or else…well, no spoilers, let’s just say the consequences are pretty dire. But there is a third option, escaping into the surrounding woods, joining up with a band of renegades whose numbers are constantly being thinned by the relentless “hunters” (Hotel guests, armed with potent tranquilizer guns).

There’s something wonderfully absurd and, frankly, a bit unnatural about the whole thing. I mean, the escapees in the forest look awfully clean and well turned out, and even after weeks on the run, living rough, Colin Farrell doesn’t lose any of his belly flab. About halfway through the film the hunt just stops, no explanation, and the forest dwellers are free to wander about without concern or dance to the electropop thumping from their ear buds.

Yes, but it’s satire, isn’t it, dark comedy. It must be: I laughed and certainly the audience around me giggled and tittered at various points. This isn’t supposed to be 1984 (although Farrell is housed in “room 101”) and Lanthimos is not ladling on the morality and significance. To me, the director is less interested in world-building than he is exploring the notion of enduring love, a passion and fidelity that can survive time and temptation, the anxieties and stresses of modern life.

Is true love conceivable or possible for everyone? Do all of us require companionship, is that a prerequisite for happiness? Who says so?  Yorgos Lanthimos shows us that even in an autocratic dystopia, some rebel souls will always insist on their right to be alone. I suppose it’s meant to be a reassuring message, a paean to individuality but, as with most satire, any revelations are costly and even if you think you’ve escaped unscathed, always make certain you check for blood. Funny how the smallest cuts bleed the most…

ΩΩΩΩ (out of 5)

“The Lobster” is currently playing at the Roxy Theatre, Saskatoon. Check their website for dates and times.

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About Cliff Burns

I'm a literary writer, specializing in slipstream/ alternative/surreal/science fiction. My influences include Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, Samuel Beckett, Jorge Luis Borges, David Cronenberg, Rene Magritte, any artist who defies convention and busts open genres, attacking the status quo.
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