Film Review: The Lobster
I wonder, when a viewer gazed upon Picasso’s work for the first time, before the term Cubist had been coined, how they went about describing such an unusual take on a traditional medium.
The Lobster, similarly, is surreal to the extreme while still managing to slide into the classification of narrative form over art house cinema. Subtle camera work, long takes and geometric framing allow the script to do most of the talking. Like most modern art, The Lobster seems like an easy piece to make, but a hard task to master. There can be no doubt however, that it came out exactly as director Yorgos Lanthimos intended it to.
The film is set in a hotel for singles who must find love within 45 days, or they get turned into an animal of their choosing. David, the films protagonist played by Colin Farrell, chooses a lobster. From there, the plot takes many twists and turns, but the main themes of the film are about solitude vs companionship; how do we meet & why do we fall in love? It turns these ideas into works of hyperbolic fiction, reducing the characters to juvenile (and often sadistic) versions of humanity to let us examine our base natures.
Narrated by Rachel Weisz, the film boasts sublime performances from an amazing cast of familiar comedic faces such as Olivia Coleman, John C. Reilly & Ashley Jenson, as well as Léa Seydoux and Ben Whishaw, more famous for their roles in the work of Mendes & Tarantino.
The question I wrestled with for a large part of The Lobster is: how seriously does it take itself? The answer? I have no idea. The film is very dark at times and genuinely shocking. A number of people left the cinema, and there were parts that had the whole audience cowering behind their hands. At the same time the entire tone of the film was one of deadpan, ridiculous humour. It is the PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone of cinema, and I genuinely can’t tell if I love the film or not, which is something I have never truly experienced before.
Although the film felt fresh for the most part, at times the cinematography felt a bit formulaic unto itself, with each scene being shot in an almost identical manor. Towards the end, watching did become a bit laborious as the novelty wore off, and the whole thing started to feel like an overly long skit.
The Lobster is by no means a ‘must-see’. Like a beautiful painting that isn’t quite for you; you can appreciate the time, effort & skill invested, but that doesn’t mean you want to hang it in your front room. However, if you are a fan of Lanthimos’ previous work, or if surrealism is your genre of choice, then The Lobster is an entertaining, quirky and fun piece of cinema.