In a world consumed with super hero franchises, sequels and reboots, it’s refreshing to see something original for a change. Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster is so original its off the wall concept makes for an unforgettable two hours.
To describe the plot would be to convince you all I’m under the influence of something or have completely lost it so I’ll sum it up as Colin Farrell lives in a world where if you don’t find a partner in fourty days you’re turned into a animal of your choosing. See, now the title makes more sense.
It’s bizarre throughout. At one point Farrell hilariously says ‘that makes sense’ when one character describes a human’s transformation into their animal; yeah, complete sense. We never see what goes on in the ‘transformation room’, which is just one brilliant act of story telling from Lanthimos in the film that sits amongst all the others. It creates a whimsical, ethereal and almost hypnotic effect; the world is thoroughly convincing despite being absolutely ridiculous.
Part of the convincingness stems from the writing in concert with the performances; The Lobster plays out so deadpan that almost everything is hilarious. Jokes come from nowhere, they switch from subtle to in your face – there are even moments where you don’t know if you should laugh or cry; I’ve never seen so many people jump in horror in a cinema screening. In terms of direction slow motion shots have never been so raucous. Farrell is excellent as David, the only named character in the film; his face resonates a kind of innocent, cold, hilarious stare that fires jokes without him even opening his mouth. It is a surreal experience that, clearly since Lanthimos is still in business, reassured me that other people found this kind of humour terrific too.
A fantastically melodramatic score that could be likened to operatic music playing over someone washing the dishes, and a beautifully shot and realized landscape make The Lobster a visual treat and an entertaining way to spend six quid.
Unfortunately the film wears a bit thin as its over long run time stretches the concept. The first hour is fantastic, the second hour is fine; the Dukes didn’t give us the option to leave sixty minutes in funnily enough. It’s not that the second half is bad, the ending is actually tense, moving and inventive all at once, but it can’t match the delirious heights of the outlandish opening hour.
But The Lobster’s strongest aspect is its social commentary. Lanthimos perfectly underscores several ideas in one sweep; the uniqueness of every couple’s love, the societal stereotypes of being single or in a relationship and most movingly, the determination of the human spirit; the latter is quietly communicated and perfectly so. Perhaps the world is so convincing because it is really just a heightened version of our own and all its ridiculous attempts to pigeonhole people into rigid groups.
It’s a small, intimate film that was complimented by the smaller screen of the Dukes cinema. I’d urge all to give it a go and do so in as confined a space as possible to fully enjoy Lanthimos’ vision.