By Christian DiMartino
It’s been a few days since I saw The Lobster, and since then I’ve kind of been trying to collect my thoughts. At first glance, I knew I enjoyed it for its bizarre lunacy, but I wasn’t sure if I loved it, or if I simply liked it. And now, alas, judging from my four star rating at the top, I have reached my verdict: I loved it. To go further, it’s easily one of my favorite films of the year so far.
The premise of The Lobster echoes the work of Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Anomalisa), but yet director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth) has established a voice all his own.Here he’s made a film that’s puzzling and weird, but yet also thoughtful, funny, and, to say the least, unforgettable. Yet not every critic has seen it yet, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some critics despise this movie. I guess we’ll have to wait until next week.
But in the meantime, I’ll unveil the story, which you will probably have to read over a few times. Set in the near future, single people, according to law, are taken to this place called The Hotel, where they are forced to find a mate within 45 days. What happens if they don’t? Here comes the strange part. If they don’t find a mate, then they are turned into an animal. Yep. Let that sink in.
Colin Farrell plays David, an awkward fella who is sent to The Hotel. Other residents of the hotel include the Lisping man (John C. Reilly) and the Limping Man (Ben Wishaw), who David befriends briefly. That’s the first half, but then everything takes an even weirder turn in the second half.
I won’t dive into the second half, because I don’t want to spoil it for you. But I will say this: the second half is completely different. Now, take Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket for example. It’s a very good film, as you know, but yet I can’t quite call it a masterpiece, because I feel like the first hour is far superior to the second. And I may very well prefer the first half of The Lobster more, but yet I found both halves equally compelling, but in different ways.
Part of what makes The Lobster such a triumph is the risks it takes. Risks in story, and also risks in tone. The film is an interesting balancing act of comedy, romance, science fiction, drama, thriller… it’s a beast. It’s an animal.
But yet it doesn’t stop there. The screenplay is sharply written, and the performances from Farrell, Reilly, Wishaw, Rachel Weisz, and Lea Seydoux as outsiders are pitch perfect. Not to mention, every element of the story that unfolds always comes as a surprise. A welcomed surprise. And the ending… Lordy.
So, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this is probably not a film everyone will climb on board for. It’s simply going to be too weird for some. However, those of us who do will find a film that’s richly entertaining and utterly fascinating. You may not like it, but you sure as hell won’t forget it.