Review: Nobody is allowed to be single anymore. In sheer world of The Lobster, set in dystopian future, single people are looked after and assisted by an authorized party to find partner within 45 days. Should they fail to find partner during the specified period, they’ll be transformed into animals of their choice – for there’s a belief that it would be easier to find partner as an animal than as human.
After his wife leaving him high and dry, David (Colin Farrell) is taken to the Hotel – where the “matchmaking” program is conducted. Along other single people, he spends his day following sets of activities from dance class, manner class, to daylight hunting in the woods to capture loners – faction of single people who forbid romance. Within limited time, David must find a partner or he’s gonna be turned into a lobster – animal of his choice which “live for over 100 years,” “are blue-blooded like aristocrats,” and “are fertile all their lives.” Sicko.
The Lobster is surprisingly funny and horror at the same time. It is an anti-thesis of romantic drama, cooked upon surrealistic twist on the background. In his first English-language film, Greek director, Yorgos Lanthimos with his frequent writer, Efthymis Filippou, serves their lobster in a sometimes-harrowing-but-mostly-clever satire, a social commentary to companionship-ridden society. Sounds peculiar, but it feels real at some corners.
It takes some time to fully reveal and introduce the dystopian world during the first act. When the audiences start to get familiar with the concept of the world and its almighty rules, the film gets quainter –getting you lots of frowns and questions. The second act takes a completely different turn from the first act, but still dwells in the same world. New characters are introduced as they bring more depths to the world. Lea Seydoux comes as a leader of non-romance faction defining a completely new point of view to the story; yet, the game-changer is not her, but Rachel Weisz, in her subtle but fragile persona.
Colin Farrell in a career-defining performance is a key to decipher Lanthimos and Filippou’s mind-blowing world. As a 40-something guy, with non-fancy moustache, pot-belly, and short sight, his suffered soul roams around state of minds which brings him to all corner of this sheer bedlams. Farrell might be the protagonist, but the most important figures in The Lobster are small characters which define the high concept of the satire.
Although the bizarre world existed in The Lobster is apparently artificial; it might look as realistic as possible, and there’s where the humor and horror side of it lie. Thanks to Lanthimos and Filippou’s uncanny script, the world fits the pitch-black humor full of poker-faced punchline to convey meaning. At some points, the humor gets too dark it becomes bitter and irreversible, where the source of horror comes.
With streams of absurdity, The Lobster delivers its satirical points, which could relate to modern society mumbo jumbo. Thoughts like ‘single is a crime’, ‘same-characteristic relationship will always work’, ‘having child can fix broken relationship’, and even the existence of non-romance faction might be relevant to real life problems as they have manifestation in the film’s universe. It works as if the satire really is the reality and it has stories.
Lanthimos doesn’t end only by making it an ‘only satire.’ The peculiar satire has more stories to tell; even it has criticism towards the core of the premise itself. Lanthimos moves forward to dig more into beyond imagination as it begins to violate the almighty rules – and that’s the strength of The Lobster.
Overall, The Lobster is reflecting Lanthimos’ point of view regarding the issue it mocks all along. Despite the ending, which instantly dismays the whole conflict, it cleverly constructs a living modern folklore which juxtaposes the core-criticism it conveys. The fine-dressed, sophisticated, well-cooked Lobster is an entrée which proves a worth in Yorgos Lanthimos’ future career.
So, should you be single, what’s the animal of your choice?
The Lobster (2016)
Drama, Comedy, Romance Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos Written by: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou Starred by: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, John C. Reilly Runtime: 118 mins Rated R