2015/ Ireland, UK, Greece, France, Netherlands, USA
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly
Words: C. Abbott
The Lobster is one of those rare films that upon research will only provide more questions surrounding it. Whenever you describe the basic plot to someone their reaction will be that of “…right”. This is what defines the film; it is particular in its peculiarity. As such it is also the biggest strength and it’s most crippling weakness. There is no denying however that the film has a certain allure to it: the general awkwardness of the performances and stilted dialogue compound every frame into something that’ll be either rejected or embraced.
Taking place in an alternate world, vaguely set some years into the future, relationships are a necessity. Failure to be within one regardless of circumstance will lead you to an imposing hotel. You are given 45 days to find a partner and if you don’t succeed, on the 45th day you will be transformed into an animal of your choosing.
There you have it, enter the world of this abstract film: a world of societal conformity and obligation. Paralleling our own society, expressing the lengths we will go to not be alone and just how repressed people all can be. This is where the film shines in its examination of the human condition, our weaknesses and our strengths. We start to see how unusual and awkward we can be as both individuals and as a species.
That being said it isn’t without its problems. Entering the second act of the film we see the focus shift away from the hotel and move into the woods. It is here that the laws of this film’s universe are brought into question. Character motivations become increasingly unrealistic; however realism is something Yorgos Lanthimos was clearly not going for. There is more emphasis put onto the symbolism, composition and framing. Many times during scenes you’ll notice there is more going on than the basic narrative at the centre, leaving the viewer with a sense of: what have I just seen? This is ample reasoning for repeat viewings, something that would be a rewarding experience for those willing to tackle the intentionally non-standard stylings.
What is clear though is that everyone involved is on top form; the impressive cast give performances so brilliantly Napoleon Dynamite in stiltedness. Lanthimos has stayed true to form for those familiar with his previous works of Alps and Dogtooth. It may be challenging to some, but anyone willing to step into this world, the experience alone is worth it.