‘The Lobster’ is goddamn strange, but also rewarding and engaging

the lobster

the lobster poster‘The Lobster’

David has 45 days to discover love; otherwise he’ll be turned into a crustacean. Yep. You read that correctly. The Lobster was on my radar for a while but unfortunately its indie nature meant that it wasn’t playing anywhere near me. Thankfully, it has now made its way to home video and, as such, has cemented itself as the most original movie I’ve seen this year.

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Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, The Lobster is the Greek director’s first foray into an English-speaking film. Its ability to have such high production value and star power in the form of Colin Farrell, John C Reilly, and Rachel Weisz puts it ahead of other independent films at the moment. Another is its highly original, yet somehow familiar narrative. Set in a dystopian world in which single people are hunted for sport, recently divorced David (Farrell) checks himself into a hotel that serves as the ultimate form of matchmaking. If he doesn’t find love again, he’ll be turned into an animal of his choosing. For him it’s a lobster, due to their “high fertility.” The movie is absurd and whole-heartedly relishes in its deadpan humor.

The performances are purposefully wooden with the actors embracing a Tommy Wiseau approach to story telling. Emphasis is given to random phrases and scenes blend together in a clunky yet intended fashion. The world is well-realized and built on exaggeration, the small fears that live in the minds of loners manifesting throughout. With the subject matter so serious, it’s hard to think that it could ever be this funny, but the writing and direction of Lanthimos tint everything with a comedic edge that sweetens the pill.

The film is built on character interaction (or lackthereof), as the world of The Lobster is one of emotional sterility. It’s as if every single person has adopted the mannerisms of Asperger syndrome. They all want the security of a relationship but they don’t want to be with someone that isn’t perfect to them, be it their hair or eyesight. An early scene in the film revolves around a character that fakes nosebleeds so that he can win the heart of a fellow nose bleeder, all to prevent becoming an animal.

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As I re-read this I realize just how goddamm strange it is and how much of a challenge it must’ve been to market this film but it pays off as it provided an engaging and unique approach to how society treats romance. In a sense it feels similar to Spike Jonze’s Her in its approach to presenting a seemingly mundane theme in an original light. The Lobster is a must watch for lovers of the surreal, or even just to see if anyone actually becomes a lobster.

4 out of 5

The Lobster is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.