I never really thought about how film has the power to translate extreme theatrical styles and ideas onto the big screen, until I watched The Lobster. Borrowing heavily from Absurdism, this science fiction artwork from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos is disguised as a quirky and playful yet despicable comedy that presents a relevant commentary on relationships in the world in which we live. It does so in an original fashion that is becoming exceedingly rare in modern cinema.
Let’s place ourselves in the familiar situation of the not-so-distant dystopian future, and imagine that we are imprisoned in a remote hotel, and if we fail to find a suitable romantic partner in 45 days, we are turned into an animal of our own choosing. This is an idea that sounds both interesting and frightening at the same time, but is without doubt innovative, as is the rest of the narrative. The plot is unpredictable and expertly paced, and balances moments of shock and anguish with spasms of rupturing laughter. If I mention any in this review, I will have made the same mistake as the movie’s trailer did, and that is reveal too much of the film. What the trailer doesn’t reveal is the enormous complexity of the film’s message; neither side (being in a relationship versus being single) is an ideal side, and that the real nature of society is not restricted to black and white.
For a film with a budget of just over $8 million, the film boasts an ensemble cast that takes the wheel of this film with little effort. The residents at the hotel include Ben Winshaw (Skyfall and Perfume) and John C. Reilly (Step Brothers and Guardians of the Galaxy), while the rebels hiding in the woods include Léa Seydoux (Spectre and Mission Impossible IV) and Rachel Weisz (The Mummy and The Fountain). Most of these unnamed characters support the protagonist David, played by an unrecognisable Colin Farrell, whose character development propels the film even further.
In terms of execution, the cinematography is exquisitely composed, and is complemented by the bleak colour palette. Returning to the sci-fi features of the film, I applaud Lanthimos’s choice to employ normal locations such as hotels, woods and cities to show how the possibility of a dystopian future is very real and very imminent. However, I feel that he may have indulged too heavily in the usage of slow-motion, and the recurrence of the same piece of music quickly wore out its welcome. Upon further reflection, this technique not only symbolises the cyclical nature of the world portrayed in the film, but dodges a few of nasty entanglements associated with copyrighted music. Overall, The Lobster, while undoubtedly eccentric and esoteric, was quite enjoyable to watch in my opinion. Having seen it in the cinema, I was initially confounded as to how many people (mostly contumelious seniors) complained about it and/or walked out. However, that did not ruin my own experience of watching the film; a sign of a very good film.
Rating - ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆