Move Review: A24's The Lobster

The Lobster
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Written by Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou
Starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Lea Seydoux and Ben Whishaw
Rated R
Runtime: 119 minutes
In this highly imaginative, delightfully absurdist comedy from visionary director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth), Colin Farrell stars as David, a man who has just been dumped by his wife. To make matters worse, David lives in a society where single people have 45 days to find true love, or else they are turned into the animal of their choice and released into the woods. David is kept at the mysterious HOTEL while he searches for a new partner, and after several romantic misadventures decides to make a daring escape to abandon this world. He ultimately joins up with a rebel faction known as The Loners, a group founded on a complete rejection of romance. But once there David meets an enigmatic stranger (Rachel Weisz) who stirs up unexpected and strong feelings within him…
At once a full immersion into a strange and surreal world, and a witty and clever reflection of our own society, The Lobster is a thrillingly audacious vision fully brought to life by Lanthimos and his terrific cast. The filmmaker displays a completely singular style and mastery of tone, finding the perfect balance between sharp-edged satire and romantic fable that entertains its audience while also leaving them with lots to reflect on long after the credits have rolled. 

This week, I took-in The Lobster on my regular quest to see as many new theatrical releases as possible.  If you read the synopsis above, you know The Lobster sounds a little trippy.  Well, it is a little trippy.  And it is super judgmental.  But it’s the kind of judgment that the audience is supposed to accept as constructive criticism and, really, who can’t stand a little constructive criticism?  Here is mine, criticism of the movie, I mean.

This isn’t the type of film that is going to appeal to everyone.  I know this because I couldn’t find anyone who would go with me to see it.  You call a film The Lobster and you may as well call it This Film Isn’t For Everyone because the reaction is the same.  It is really biting satire.  Dark, dark comedy.  It’s guilty funny.  People should not laugh at someone the shocking scenes offered, those things aren’t funny, they’re horrible.  I laughed out loud for much of the first half of the movie, and, immediately, felt guilty that I had done that.  Typing this, I replayed one of the scenes in my head and laughed again.  Terrible.  Terribly funny.  Twistedly funny.

However, it's only partially funny because of all of the judgment I mentioned earlier.  The satire pokes fun at the emptiness of “romantic conventions.”  It highlights the vanity and shallowness in achieving coupledom.  Then, it pits those who would attempt to achieve coupledom at all costs with those who forsake all elements of love.  Well, who hasn’t fallen into this spectrum at one point or another? Basically, I was laughing until some scene or another hit too close to home, and, then, I wasn’t laughing anymore.  Of course, that is the point of The Lobster.   The best movies are the ones which leave an impression, make the audience think.  The Lobster accomplished that well.    

I do think that some of the message was diluted in the second half of the movie. The laughs came farther between and the plot felt a little disjointed.  The satire went from biting to outlandish.  I felt like the movie had a point to make, it achieved that and, then, it had some filler.  Don’t get me wrong, the second half of the film highlights the acting of the two stars, Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, and it has some good bits, but I more enjoyed the first half of the film. 

All things considered, I’m glad that I ventured into the art-house theater to watch The Lobster.  Look for it. It is a worthy endeavor.  The Lobster is playing in limited release now, and opens nationally on Friday.        

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