Sunday, August 7, 2016

Movie Review: The Lobster (2016)

The Lobster (2016) - Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos; Written by Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou; Starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Lea Seydoux, John C. Reilly, Olivia Colman, Ashley Jensen.

By Kenny Howell

Yorgos Lanthimos has been a man after my own heart for a few years now.

His bizarre view on the world is so polarizing, mostly because he is so weird, but luckily I am weird too.

He started with the brilliant Dogtooth about a man who held his family basically hostage in their own home by telling them that the world outside is filled with giant cats that will eat you if you step outside the fence. Then, his follow up Alps, saw a group of terrible actors running a business where they would act like a loved one that recently passed away so the families could deal with their grief. Throughout both films, he made extremely bizarre choices and physical, sometimes brutal, comedy to tell his odd stories. He also likes to spin thing crazily out of control.



That continues with The Lobster, his first English language film. It keeps the weird going with a story of a future or parallel (it never really says) universe where if you are single, you are forced to go to a hotel to find a partner. You have 45 days to find that partner, and if you don't you will be turned into an animal of your choice. Colin Farrell (Seven Psychopaths) is a recently divorced man who has chosen to become a lobster if he doesn't make it. He likes the sea and lobsters live a long time, so it seems like a good choice to him.

In the hotel, the people are given plenty of opportunities to socialize, all orchestrated by the staff which thinks they know best people should get together. There are also hunts in the woods, not of animals, but of people that have escaped the hotel. They shoot them with tranquilizer darts, and then return to the hotel for more socializing. If you break the rules, there are punishments such as making you put your hand in the toaster for a few minutes. That old story again.

Of Lanthimos' three films, this might be my least favorite, even though I do appreciate its completely off the wall antics. I don't know if it was the transition to the English language, or something lost in translation in his two previous films. Dogtooth dealt with social conditioning, Alps with the nature of loss, and The Lobster with fitting into societal norms, or boxes created to pair each together. But isn't as quite as head on as the other two films were, and the film loses its conceit a bit in the final act. Still, Farrell, Rachel Weisz (as the narrator and love interest) and John C. Reilly (as a weirdo with a lisp) are game for Lanthimos' bizarre delivery, and they sell it well. The sheer fact that it is so unlike anything out there is enough, in addition to the true mind-boggling moments of absurdity. It just possibly could have been a bit more controlled.

Rating: ***

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