Lobster

Visionary director Yorgos Lanthimos isn’t afraid to press an audience’s buttons, and make them feel uncomfortable. This is the man who brought us the twisted Dogtooth after all. That film, which examined teenagers living in an isolated house with their overprotective parents, both fascinated its viewers and made them squirm in their seats. He does absurdist set-ups well, and his new film The Lobster is no different. This time around he managed bring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz along for the crazy ride.

Colin Farrell plays David, who at the film’s opening scene has been dumped by his wife. He lives in a society wherein single people have 45 days to find true love, or else be turned into an animal of their choosing. David must travel to the mysterious Hotel where he and other singles will search for a new partner for the 45 days. He chooses a lobster as his animal he will turn into if he fails at finding a partner.

After a series of mishap flings, David escapes the Hotel to the Woods, where he joins other rebels who call themselves the Loners. The Loners live on the fringe of society where they are single, and are brutally punished if they demonstrate romantic affection towards one another. Once meeting up with the Loners he meets a beautiful and mysterious stranger (Rachel Weisz) who awakens up some unexpected feelings within him.

The strange premise might be one of the most original, and absurdist love stories to come along in quite a while, and will leave many scratching their heads. Lanthinmos has a salty sense of humor, and isn’t afraid to take his characters to dark and violent places. David is taken from one crazy environment to another, and it’s hard to really know where he belongs. Most probably won’t like the direction the story takes, but with Lanthimos I have a feeling gets off on putting his audience in this awkward new environment for his protagonist.

One clever thing the script does is that you never know any of the characters names besides its lead. They are only referred to as characteristics, or roles they play in the story. As David’s love interest Rachel Weisz is merely referred to as “Short Sighted Woman”. Weisz also serves as voice-over narrator for the first act of the film. Other guests at the hotel include Lisping Man (John C. Reilly), Limping Man (Ben Whishaw), Heartless Woman (Angeliki Papoulia), and Loner Leader (Léa Seydoux), who leads the band of single misfits outside of the hotel.

Like Dogtooth, this film is an fascinating look at who we are as a society. Lathimos’s film asks its audience questions like why are single people shunned by society, and just how important is finding a companion in life? The film also looks at the fragile human condition with intriguing insights, while still managing to be a love story at heart. As one of the most oddly moving romances to come along in quite a while The Lobster is daringly different, and is a refreshing allegory of society.