This one’s going to be tough to describe. The winner of the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Festival , The Lobster is the new film from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos who had me involved while scratching my head at screenings of his previous resume entries Dogtooth (2009) and ALPS (2011). I considered both decent films, but I surely wasn’t put in a position to recommend either film to the average film watcher. Even the posters for his first two films were a difficult digestion.
With The Lobster, Lanthimos gathers together a cast that includes Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly and Ben Whishaw to introduce us to a world where all single people over a certain age must report to a hotel to find a mate. If, after a 45-day perusing and courting period, the individual does not find a mate they are then transformed into an animal (you can sign up for any particular animal) and sent into the wild.
Colin Farrell plays David. David has recently separated from his wife and is therefore deemed ‘single’ and reports to the hotel for his search amongst the residents. Registered to become a lobster if things do not progress accordingly, David is none too accepting of the hotel’s policies and he befriends a group of other disgruntleds in the woods (notably John C. Reilly and Rachel Weisz) where they discuss the unorthodox methods and ideas behind the premise. The group, named The Loners, are a weird bunch to say the least and that doesn’t even take into account their names which include “The Limping Man”, “Nosebleed Woman” and “Biscuit Woman”.
If nothing else, The Lobster is something I haven’t quite seen before. In an era of men and women in tight colorful clothing running around saving our cities with their superpowers, The Lobster seemed like a breath of fresh air. But without being able to put my finger directly on the pulse, I was a little baffled and let down by the overall execution.
Weisz is good and her soothing voice is a welcome both in her presence and in her narration of the film. But Farrell, Reilly and others are just too boring to have kept me interested in a truly unique story by Lanthimos and Filippou. The film is a commentary on the whole dating ritual and how the world almost forces us into finding a soul mate, but the characters fail to connect with audiences in a way that would turn The Lobster into an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Maybe I just didn’t get it. Maybe the film was smarter than me and I failed to pick up on any of the nuances that helped The Lobster walk away with the Jury Prize. I liken it very much to the first Wes Anderson film I saw – The Royal Tenenbaums – which confounded me but has grown a bit on my soft side like old university ivy.
Whether Farrell’s plump David or Reilly’s Lisping Man become something I grow affection for remains to be certain. What I do know is that I saw something original. I just don’t think I liked it or will recommend it to others.