Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Written by Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou
Filmed on location in Ireland
Time to review one of those films you may have heard about but it came and went so quickly you didn’t really have time to firm up plans to go see it on the big screen. Don’t feel bad if you couldn’t find it; on its last weekend, it was only on four screen and brought in almost nine C-notes. The budget was an estimated $4,000,000 dollars and it managed to clear just over twice that, worldwide. Stupendous. Now that’s out on DVD squillions more people can watch it. In fact, if you go outside your neighbourhood coffeehouse and find the hipster doofuses (look for anyone vaping, man-buns, sever-looking women in black turtlenecks, anyone pretending to be reading a book in a foreign language) and you might, MIGHT find someone who has seen it or will say they have or, at the very least, will agree to watch the DVD with you. Hide the dank stuff. You’ll feel like you’re on it anyway.
When I tell you the premise you’ll probably say, Oh! That movie. Yeah, it’s that movie.
Set sometime in the near, uncomfortably near, future, something has gone crazily wrong with this society. Everyone must be part of a couple, heterosexual or homosexual doesn’t matter, but no one is allowed to be on their own, to be a Loner. *eeek!* The instant one becomes single they are rounded up and set to a hotel where they are given forty-five days to make a love match with one of the other singles there. Fail to pair up? You are transformed into the animal you have chosen ahead of time. Guess what our David (Colin Farrell) has chosen? Oh, you can’t possibly guess.
What set this oh so weird system into play? (I blame The Bachelor, Tindr, Ken & Barbie, and Prince Charles and Horse Face; everyone and everything that told us we had to fall in love instantly and be completely compatible. Oh, and eHarmony.) With all the twists, contortions, dips, and swan dives in The Lobster we are left to figure that out on our own. Or not.
Whether it’s the thought of the fate awaiting loners or the events that led to this situation, much of the humane has been bled out of humanity. David and his limping friend are just the first in an unimpressive parade of fairly heartless characters, some more cold and brutal than others. One is even identified only as “Heartless Woman” (Angeliki Papoulia). In fact, it is a measure of the shallow nature of the characters that almost all none are identified by none. You can’t get attached to people you know so little, in a script or in a hotel.
Of course, in a plot like this there is always the character the audience is shouting at the others to look at and appreciate. Irresistible Ashley Jensen (Extras, Agatha Raisin), known here only as the “Biscuit Woman” may be the only genuinely humane person in this strange world. At least, she was the only one I didn’t want to pound into the ground like a tent stake.
As the movie gets more and more weird — I know! You wouldn’t think it could. — questions pile up: What the hell happened? Is this happening everywhere? Who gave these people the authority to do these transformations? How did surgery progress so far so soon? Are they doctors or vets? Okay, that may just be what I’m wondering.
There are lies, hunts, murders, kinky but cold sex, a Lord of the Flies thing going on, Colin Farrell packing on pounds to look dumpy, Rachel Weisz unable to look dumpy, betrayal, and pure insanity. And all to find that perfect match or live without.
So, if you got caught in this butterfly net of lunacy…what animal would you choose to be?