The Lobster (2015)

The Lobster (2015) movie poster

director Yorgos Lanthimos
viewed: 06/12/2016 at CineArts @ the Empire Theater, SF, CA

The Lobster is an absurdist take on middle age and the situation of being single.  In Yorgos Lanthimos’s world, neither truly futuristic nor totally fantastic, if adults are single for more than 45 days, they are turned into animals, animals of their choice, but animals nonetheless.  Colin Farrell is the schlubby David, caring for his brother, a dog, heading into a facility somewhere between spa and prison, where all men dress alike and all women dress alike and the spark that brings people together is something random and specific about them, like having a limp, or a lisp, or even something more severe.

While it’s Lanthimos’s first film in English, the tone is both dry and droll, as everyone speaks in overly practiced yet uncomfortable formality, negotiating the straits and narrows of society’s will.

But David eventually breaks out and hides in the forest, where renegades who shun society live out their lives of independence.  The loners are led by Léa Seydoux and have their own set of ruthless rules, which are in polar opposition to society’s, not allowing contact or relationships.  These people are hunted by the “normal” folks from the spa/prison and shot with knock-out darts.

Rachel Weisz shows up among these loners and Farrell and Weisz find themselves in some form of love that fits in neither situation available and are forced to hide their feelings.  The film turns on absurdity after absurdity and ends climatically with a dread decision not entirely spelled out to achieve love or to whatever.

I loved Lanthimos’s Dogtooth (2009)  and liked Alps (2011) and now have to say that I really like his films in general.  The Lobster is a slow burn, full of awkwardness and surrealism, plainspoken but mordant, strange and unusual.  Frankly, it’s probably the best film I’ve seen in the cinema so far this year (not that there’s been a lot of fierce competition.)

Heck, I even took my 12 year old daughter and 14 year old son to this, a film dealing with “adult situations” and oblique humor.  My daughter was disappointed Farrell didn’t turn into a lobster.

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