Making an art house film is a balancing act. If handled properly, the picture can come out looking like a beautifully crafted, poignant work of art. But there’s a thin line between being brilliant and being silly, pretentious, and (worst of all) forgettable. The Lobster walks that very line, but ultimately falls on the side of brilliance.
The Lobster is directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (his English language feature film debut), and stars Colin Farrell as recently divorced David. It takes place in a future where single people are sent to a hotel and given 45 days to find a partner. If they fail to find a partner during their stay, they are turned into an animal of their choosing.
Lanthimos tries his hardest to make his audience feel depressed while watching this movie. From the way it’s shot, to the score (or lack thereof), to the set design, the Greek director creates a very distinct atmosphere. The Lobster looks like a deeply serious drama. Moreover, it feels like a tragedy.
Now if that sounds a little too broody for your liking, don’t worry – this film is actually hysterical. Granted, it’s extremely dark humor, but it doesn’t get any better than this if that’s your thing. Between the witty dialogue and the comical situations, this picture is bitingly funny without having to tell a single joke. But just be aware that it’s a very awkward and internal kind of funny, not the kind that makes you laugh out loud.
Though as absurd as the overall premise may be, the most ridiculous details are the ones pulled straight from real life. Lanthimos’ script, co-written with Efthymis Filippou, shines a light on just how warped our world’s outlook on love has become. It’s all on display here: the stigma placed on singles, the lies people tell to make a relationship work, and (for the sake of fairness) the feelings of superiority that “loners” have over couples. The story is a brutally honest take on societal problems that are only getting worse; it just had to create this totally fantastical world to make them apparent.
The performances in this flick are interesting, to say the least. To some, the acting may come off as stilted and the dialogue phony. It works perfectly in the context of this particular film though, and somehow feels totally earnest.
Colin Farrell does a terrific job as sad and confused David, but Rachel Weisz truly steals the show as his unnamed love interest. The movie is at its deepest and most true when these two share the screen; they’re what gets you to actually believe this farcical scenario.
Truthfully, The Lobster isn’t for everyone. It requires an open mind, and what can only be described as “an acquired taste.” Nonetheless, it’s intelligent, sharply funny, and it has a message the world needs to hear. So while it’s not designed for mass appeal, it’s still a picture that everyone should see.
The Lobster is in select theaters now. Watch the trailer below and see if it’s up your alley!