February 3, 2016

The Lobster

Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015
Anyone who has seen Yorgos Lanthimos’ 2009 film Dogtooth is aware of his bizarre vision. He has a certain level of commitment to his work, while creating unusual stories in alternate dimensions. He doesn’t give up on them. The Lobster is another odd high-concept piece of work that is set in an alternate reality. In this reality single adults are given a window of time while they must find a lover. If they fail to find a lover within that timeframe, they will be transformed into an animal of their choice. A completely original and provocative premise for a film. Plenty of cinephiles were anxiously waiting for a release date on The Lobster. It was pushed up a bit and finally made it to screens in 2015.

There are certainly similarities to the aforementioned Dogtooth. The sense of confinement, a sort of forced etiquette, and obvious awkward tension. Just like Dogtooth, Lanthimos slowly serves pieces and pieces of the story. He builds and builds and builds. The layers of the onion are unpeeled. All while residing in this strange sense of reality, one that is rigid but also completely intriguing. The intermittent narration almost gives makes the film feel like a Wes Anderson piece on acid.

He decides to put most of the focus on main character David, played by Colin Farrell. David is a recently divorced man who has just arrived at the hotel looking for a mate. He’s a shy guy, a visibly tense guy. Honestly not a very likeable character. That’s one of the more troublesome aspects of the movie. Farrell is a difficult guy to get behind. He’s not necessarily the everyman. The everyman is more like John C. Reilly’s Lisping Man character. Actually, it feels like Farrell walked off filming the disappointing Season 2 of True Detective and didn’t get changed or even shower and just went right to work on the set of The Lobster. So that character becomes a bit draining, having to follow David for so long. And that is okay for the first ⅔ of the film, where you are getting served the constant exposition of this outlandish world. And when you venture into the lush forest (filmed in the breathtaking Dromore Woods in Ireland), it continues to be alluring. But when minutes in the forest becomes a more lengthy stay, the film falls into a tiring pace. Lanthimos tries to wrap up the film with an open-ended final scene just like he did with Dogtooth. But it fails to have that lingering effect, failing to keep that inner dialogue going. The Lobster is a very inventive piece of work Lanthimos that should certainly be seen, but it’s likely not to take a spot in your brain like Dogtooth did.

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