The Lobster

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This is perhaps the weirdest musing and metaphor on romantic love I’ve ever seen. There are other movies that touch on these themes, but none that focus entirely on just this single idea in such unique way. That focus, that lack of distraction, is an impressive film feat by the multiply award winning director and co-writer Yorgos Lanthimos. It is always tempting to do more, but he restrained himself in both script and execution to deal with only one idea and follow it through to its natural conclusion.

And yet I still can’t honestly say what I think of the result. I had really been looking forward to this film, but had expected something a bit lighter, if still darkly funny. That just isn’t what I got. But it has continued to simmer in my brain. The Lobster provides a lot of grist that is darkly funny and forces you to think. The story looks at both the drive and need for relationships, or not, and the declarations of society that people who are alone, are broken in some way. How you feel about the messages and the ending will depend entirely on your mood and experiences.

The cast is a delightful mix of people whose performances would have made Brecht proud. There is nearly no emotion expressed, though there are volumes of it indicated and felt. Colin Farrell (Miss Julie) drives the story on screen while Rachel Weisz (Youth) drives it via narration. The sense is one of a twisted sort of bedtime story for adults told by an almost disinterested parent. Almost.

Interacting with the two are a host of characters, each with their own special baggage to add. Among them are John C. Reilly (Life After Beth), Ben Whishaw (A Hologram for the King), Olivia Colman (The Night Manager), Léa Seydoux (Spectre), and two lesser known faces, Angeliki Papoulia and Ariane Labed (Before Midnight).

I can’t say I’d like to see this story again, though that has nothing to do with the artistry of the result. It is simply disturbing and upsetting at times and not in ways I feel I need to be reminded again. At least not too soon. The bleak humor and razor satire definitely connects. You may find it too cynical, or too naive, or too simple, but I don’t think it is any of these in particular, but somehow all of them at once in an intriguing package.

The Lobster

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