Dir: Yorgos Lanthimos (2015)
The opening scene of The Lobster, shot through the windscreen of a car sees a calm woman walk into a field with a gun and murder a donkey. Right after we see a beer-bellied, moustachioed Colin Farrell dumped by an unseen girlfriend; “Is he short sighted too?” he asks. A shocking and blunt juxtapose to one of the strangest and finest dissections of our “like” / “dislike” addicted, quick-fix-finding, self-absorbed, couple-obsessed society. Tinged with violence, comedy and sadness this is fantastic left field film making that is incredibly difficult to square away; And there’s not much better than that.
Helmed by Dogtooth director Yorgos Lanthimos, The Lobster brilliantly subverts “reason” in this alternate reality in the same way. Don’t ask, don’t tell. The morose David (Farrell), post break up, is taken away by the men in white coats and is checked in to a stuffy hotel with a sheepdog who was once his brother. You see, the conceit is that anyone not able to find a partner after 45 days in this bizarre speed-dating hotel will be turned into an animal of their choosing. Ludicrously and ingeniously the plot is delivered so perfectly deadpan that the oddness of the film just blends right in.
Why are David’s hands and his belt cuffed to his pants on the first night of his stay? Why does every person there seem to have one distinguishable physical quirk? Eye problems, limps, lisps, nosebleeds abound. Why are people jumping from windows? Why are they punished with creatively savage use of a toasters and hard boiled eggs? Once you’ve worked out that it’s our very own societal romantic norms that are in Lanthimos’ crosshairs you’ve walked right into the quirky genius of it all.
In the same way the children in Dogtooth were pitted against each other, these hapless broken hearted romantics, will try and snare a match with a fantastic cast of oddballs including Olivia Coleman, Ben Wishaw and John C. Reily. As if all that wasn’t strange enough we’re told that more days can be bought for every kill made on a late night woodland hunt; It turns out there, a bunch of rebel loners including Léa Seydoux and The Lobster‘s dour Von Trier like narrator Rachel Weisz, hanging out in their self imposed relationship limbo.
There is something incredibly special about Lanthimos’ film; A sort of balance in tone between comedy, shock, drama and sadness; Like Roy Andersson, Charlie Kaufman and Michael Haneke made a film together. Farrell is perfect, letting the others trounce him in every scene; The sad lonely shocked disposition of a suddenly shapeless, sexless, womanless bummer of a human being, going against every role he’s ever played. A brilliant and brilliantly strange piece of film making but, in an incredibly unique way, it says more about our battles with relationships and friends in relationships than any romantic comedy has in a long, long time.