Review: The Lobster

Film Reviews

The Lobster
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

In Theaters: 05.27

I set my hopes high for The Lobster, having been swooned by director Yorgos Lanthimos’ penchant for adulterating his characters’ consciousness in plausible alternate realities in films like Dogtooth and Alps. Colin Farrell stars as David, a man who has been thrust from his relationship of 12 years with his former partner. His society and the law forbid people to be single, and he enrolls in a coupling program hosted at a hotel. If a probationary single person doesn’t find a match with somebody in a period of 45 days, they receive mandatory surgery that transforms them into an animal of their choice. The hotel regiment also mandates that the enrollees hunt “Loners”—vagabonds who’ve deserted the hotel’s coupling program or society altogether—and deliver them to receive their animal-transformation procedure. David must act fast and pretends to be just as heartless as a woman he eyes and whom others fear. The two hook up and begin their trial period together. It doesn’t work out, and David must flee to the forest to join the Loners. There, his commanders prohibit sex and flirting—the antithesis to the artificial love that the other side propagates. They train to combat the couple-aspiring hunters and dig their own, eventual graves. And what would David’s new life be if he doesn’t fall in love with a woman (Rachel Weisz) in these woods? I feared that Lanthimos might lose his touch with a cast of this caliber, that his hard-earned filmmaker-on-the-rise status would dilute the zany flavor that he created with his other films. Fortunately, he exceeded my expectations. The Lobster is an Orwellian black comedy, and Lanthimos’ capacity for dystopia seems boundless. He upholds the same stilted dialogue that we hear in his previous films, and he colors The Lobster with a humorous edge. His characters diagnose their psycho-emotional states ever so clinically, and I couldn’t help but laugh and giggle my way through the film. The Lobster illuminates the binary nature of the dogma that polarizes the hunters and the Loners; the two sects present opposing but reciprocal views on sexuality and pairing that take shape, visually, in the uniforms that the two groups don in the film. These contrary forces allow David to distinguish his quest—or maybe it’s happenstance—to find his mate. Amid this tension, The Lobster is the strangest, most beautiful love story that you can see onscreen. –Alexander Ortega