The Lobster

Directed By: Yorgos Lanthimos

Starring: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Jessica Barden, Olivia Colman, Ashley Jensen, Ariane Labed, Angeliki Papoulia, John C. Reilly, Léa Seydoux, Michael Smiley, and Ben Whishaw

Dystopian science fiction thrillers have been dominating the mainstream for the last several years.  The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner all serve as pertinent examples.  This hasn't held true to the same extent at the independent box office.  There are hidden gems like The Rover, and a case could be made for Ex Machina being somewhat dystopian.  That's just not the same as the onslaught of franchises built upon one adaptation after another on the mainstream side of the house.  With all this in mind, Yorgos Lanthimos's The Lobster is a welcome addition to the indie box office bringing a fresh dose of originality.

It's hard being single in the City.  If a girlfriend breaks your heart or your husband passes away, you're shipped off to the Hotel.  There, each newly single man or woman has 45 days to pair up with someone else.  Each single who fails to find a mate during this period is turned into the animal of his or her choosing.  To make matters tougher for the singles, masturbation is taboo at the Hotel and is punishable by force.  However, the Maid (Ariane Labed) will sexually stimulate the singles but stop before they achieve an orgasm.  Some fortunate singles like the Heartless Woman (Angeliki Papoulia) can extend their stay by successfully hunting loners who have left society altogether and live in the forest.  For each loner captured, the Hunter is given an extra day to find a mate at the Hotel.  The film centers on the recently divorced David (Colin Farrell) and the unique circumstances under which he falls in love with a Loner Short Sighted Woman (Rachel Weisz) in the woods.

It takes a really creative filmmaker to come up with a movie like The Lobster.  There's the element of fantasy and science fiction in which former people live out their loveless adult lives as the animals of their choosing.  There's the element of societal clashing in which the loners are shoved out as pariahs and are quietly rebelling against the majority in the City.  There's the (in)human element whereby no one here really — whether a lover or a loner — has a soul, even if he or she drinks the Kool-Aid.  It’s so horrible that all you can do is laugh.  I have to give director Yorgos Lanthimos credit for crafting something immensely imaginative in The Lobster and somehow packaging that in a dystopian sci-fi thriller.  Color me impressed because this is one strong piece of cinema with a sick, twisted sense of humor.

In terms of originality, I've heard quite a few individuals making comparisons between The Lobster and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  I can't say that both films aren't immensely creative in their takes on the trials of love.  What I can say, however, is that Lanthimos's English language directorial debut is decidedly darker.  The Lobster is a bleak film depicting a loveless world.  You can see it in this creative yet gritty envisioning of a future in which commonalities matter more than opposites attracting.  You can hear it in the violent score where minor keys dominate to add to the darkness.  You can feel it in the raw and visceral tone that Lanthimos sets.  Yes, The Lobster is one ominous film that could be potent commentary on the world in which we live today and a great deal that's wrong with it.

At the center of the film, we have two potent introverted performances and one intriguing antagonist.  As our star David, Colin Farrell gives a very different performance, unlike anything we've seen from him.  In this world where love is pretty much nonexistent, Farrell's David is a sad lonely figure who latches onto this rare thing with the Short Sighted Woman and doesn't let go.  Sad, lonely, loving, and jealous, Farrell deftly delivers a range of emotions in what should be considered a muted performance on the surface.  Much of the same can be said for Rachel Weisz in her performance as the Short Sighted Woman.  Her character has been on an equally loveless journey that's brought her to this moment in her life when sparks finally fly.  She brings an unmistakable grace and dignity to a Loner who's living the most undignified life.  Lastly, Léa Seydoux is a welcome addition as the chilling loner leader.  Scarred by the society that has produced her, she's one brutal antagonist that manages to stand out in a cold, cold world.

The Lobster
is not for everyone.  I repeat.  The Lobster is not for everyone.  For those who have the endurance, this is a bizarre yet intimate affair full of emotion, nuance, and horrors that will stick with you for quite some time.  The English language debut of Yorgos Lanthimos is something to remember.  The Lobster gets a 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.