The Lobster (2015) Movie Reviews

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

An Absurdist Screwball Comedy

The Lobster (2015) Movie Reviews

The Lobster (2015) Movie Reviews

The Lobster is a surreal deadpan comedy about the strangeness of social pressures and modern relationships. 

The setting is a bleak, tightly controlled hotel on the coast of Ireland. David (Colin Farrell), a recently divorced Architect, is given 40 days to find a partner or else be transformed into an animal of his choosing; in this case, a lobster. Sound strange? That's just the first 10 minutes. Guests of the hotel are subjected to routine trips to shoot 'loners' with tranquillisers, and awkward high-school dances to entice singles to mingle. As David's days start running out, he decides to feign common interest with a heartless woman in order to escape his fate. But can he pull it off? 

Farrell really hits the mark with this role, displaying awkward machismo and fragile humility in equal measure. His comedic timing is matched only by his supporting cast that includes John C. Reilly, Ashley Jensen, and Olivia Coleman. Rachel Weisz is also spot-on as the short-sighted woman.

The Lobster has just about everything you'd want from a film. It's unpredictable, it's offbeat, and it's laugh-out-loud funny. But it's most impressive feature is the subtext - it manages to reflect how odd our own modern-day social pressures are. How loneliness is feared, how individuality loses out to the mainstream system, and how relationships have to be deemed 'legitimate' by some higher order. There's plenty to talk about with this film, and I'll definitely be seeing it again to delve a little deeper....

There's no chance that you'll see a film as weird as The Lobster this whole year. In what is effectively an indie art-house piece, you get a completely insane and almost unfathomable world filled with more and more absurdities everywhere you look. However, it's such an incredibly unique and eye-catching film that it's still hugely engrossing and surprisingly entertaining to watch.

The story centres around one man, played by Colin Farrell, as he attempts to find a partner as a part of this bizarre system. The first act revolves around his time in 'The Hotel', and is not only hugely odd, but both dramatic and unnerving as well as hilarious to watch, featuring some of the best dark comedy written in years.

The film takes its story as seriously as any drama, and you feel that through the deeply disturbing atmosphere that emerges off the screen. However, as the film is just so weird, it eases you into the oddness of it all very impressively through the use of humour, something that more pretentious art-house films fail to do, and are resultantly a lot harder to really get into.

So, you'll definitely be laughing a lot, if not in a more disturbed than hugely entertained manner, throughout the first act, and by the end of it, you'll surely be as used as you can be to the incredibly weird feel of this whole film.

Just to give you an idea of how unorthodox this film is, every scene is full of awkward silences, the actors speak as if they're reading off of cue cards with no emotion whatsoever, the imagery is very ugly and unpleasant to look at right the way through, and the incredible slow pace of it all means that the film feels like it goes on for about five times as long as it actually does.

And yet, I still can't get around the fact that this is a brilliant film. Mainly, it's the fact that it's just so unique and almost shockingly bizarre, but it's just filled with so many captivating ideas that it's impossible not to be fully drawn into this insane story.

So, the performances, the directing, the writing, and pretty much everything is stunning, apart from one big issue that prevents this from being a truly incredible film. Following the end of the first act, the film does lose its way quite a lot, taking almost too big a leap into an even stranger abyss than you ever imagined at the beginning, and, with a little less humour in the latter stages, isn't as easy to watch as the first act had been.

However, it does pick up again towards a terrifying and as bizarre as ever conclusion, and that's why I'm going to give The Lobster a 9 out of 10, but I must warn you that if you feel you can't cope with this film for longer than the first twenty minutes, then it's not for you. This is definitely a cult film for the ages, but won't be a big hit with general audiences.

It took some time to let Yorgos Lanthimos' new film "The Lobster" settle into my mind. On the surface is a dark comedy, full of rich images, and staggering performances from its principal cast. Deeper lays one of the most original and heart wrenching stories on modern relationships, likely the best seen in film since Michel Gondry's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." "The Lobster" tells the story of a dystopian near future, where single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty- five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods. 

At the center is David (played by Colin Farrell), who enters the Hotel with his brother, who's been turned into a dog, and begins a domino effect that will make him both an outcast and a fugitive. Beginning with a hilarious and smart script by Lanthimos and co- writer Efthymis Filippou, "The Lobster" gets some of the year's biggest laughs. The two create a symphony of truth about our society's perception of relationships and love. When David first enters the hotel, you can see the initial despair and fight against the system. He believes in the idea of love but isn't particularly fond of being under its spell once again. Its simply life and death but when the story makes him an outcast, where love is forbidden, you see his hopeless romantic self become drawn to his "Short Sighted Woman."

 (played by Rachel Weisz) The evolution of David's outlook on his current situation is authentic and real, as he shows the center of his heartache in only intermittent spurts. You can thank all that to the powerhouse performance by Colin Farrell, who delivers his best and most audacious film role to date. "The Lobster" isn't just about its script and lead performer. It also assembles one of the year's best cast ensembles. Rachel Weisz is a sensation, giving her best work since her Oscar-winning role in "The Constant Gardener." As the "Lisping Man," its refreshing to see John C. Reilly dig deep into a role like this, one of which we haven't seen from him in nearly a decade. As the "Limping Man," Ben Whishaw continues to build an arsenal of titanic-like performances, all of which solidifies him as one of the best kept secrets working today. 

More roles for him please. As the "Loner Leader," Léa Seydoux's villainous and vile demeanor is a fantastical addition, adding a needed depth and danger to the film and role. Olivia Colman's Hotel Manager is a bonus treat, as she effortlessly brings chuckles and fear to her mystery woman. Cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis finds his stride and vision early on, capturing an aesthetic that is both stylized and advantageous. The visual contrast is dazzling and particularly noteworthy but what's lurking between each and every frame is especially dynamic and robust. One of the year's very best. Upon first viewing, Yorgos Mavropsaridis' editing work can seem bloated but over 24 hours later, it's a taut and vivaciously engaging piece, cut with a resemblance of Jeff Buchanan and Eric Zumbrunnen's snubbed work on Spike Jonze's "Her." 

The score is insanely haunting and very appropriate for its dark natured comic look at life. It took some time to digest but "The Lobster" feels full of life and is a soulful opus on love. Quirky and clever, its black comic tones shouldn't distract from its core narrative and mission; to engage the parimeters and infatuation of devotion. Just a dream.

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