Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Collin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Jessica Barden.
The central character of The Lobster is David- the meek man played by Colin Farrell. He’s meek because society made him that way, a society in which meekness is the only means of survival. I don’t recall any other characters in the entire film actually receiving a name. Names don’t matter, as the people around you are nothing more than insignificant components of the highly-systematic world in the film that director Yorgos Lanthimos has created. All that matters is your marital status- “Two is better than one” is the insisted philosophy of this dystopia, and if you’re single, you have 45 days to find love in a hotel, one where everyone is just as confused and heartbroken, as well as inevitably as miserable and desperate as you are. You can either find someone to spend your life with within that month-and-a-half or you can become a “loner,” to be hunted by the guests, and when captured are then turned into animals and set into the wild. This marks this film’s final transition from a deadpan romance film into a fully absurd science-fiction whack job.
The lonely hearts approach each other slowly but make their decision minutes later, finding unison in the most random similarities- nosebleeds, limps, sight deficiencies. Things that don’t really matter, but they lead to couplings that are objectively better than being turned into a donkey. David adjusts to this about as well as we would, if we, like him, had no choice. He moves into a room with his dog (and former brother), trying to find someone (anyone) and adjust to the overbearing universe that doesn’t care about his happiness, as his wife’s leaving reduced his odds of peace of mind to a sliver.
Dreadful as this all may sound, The Lobster not only embraces an ironic sense of dry humor but lives through it and thrives from it, often using it exclusively over story and characters. Lanthimos has his actor’s dialogue come out as cold and uncaring as their circumstances would make them, which in itself could be ironic considering what they need to survive. The characters are blunt, forward, and awkward, and shown from a distance to make the audience laugh at their predicaments. Lanthimos takes full advantage of this, making us chuckle at some situations arguably darker than that of any horror film you’ll see this year. These jokes and little moments do wear thin by the end, an ending that is realized after we had been weary of the robotic direction of the actors for about a half hour.
The morbidity does remain grounded and intact, however, through its screeching classical score, although it’s occasionally used for comedic timing (more irony). The Lobster is in another world, where the sky is almost constantly grim, on the verge of the storm, as bleak and helpless as its people on the ground.
An original script by Lanthimos and Ethymis Filippou, the universe unfolds in such a manner that it never loses our intrigue, even after the characters exhaust their charms, despite being shown through believable performances. Despite its length outweighing its themes and message, it presents the disciplined grasp of the director’s vision.