If you are single you had better watch out. You’ll soon find yourself escorted to a hotel which borders the wild woodland and, if during your 45 day stay you fail to find a mate, you will be turned into an animal of your choosing and released into the wilderness. Colin Farrell’s David is all too familiar with the process when he first checks himself into the hotel, after-all the dog at his side used to be his brother before he failed to partner up during his stay. If this sounds a little surreal that’s because it is, but it’s also often hilarious, poignant and is a consistently insightful satirical look into the 21st Century’s elevation of ‘the couple’ over single folk.
What perhaps first strikes you here is the quality of the script; it resembles a clockwork dream in which it at once has a precise and finely tuned feel where you can almost feel every meticulously devised element working in sync to produce an almost contradictorily undefined and illusive atmosphere. It would be going too far to describe this as surrealist as some have done, however the flavours of that movement do colour and thus bring something new to what is effectively a Logan’s Run style sci-fi, albeit set in the present day. The structure of a troubling society which hunts those who try to run away into the wilderness brings a sense of familiarity to the piece, keeping it necessarily grounded and more easily digestible.
I loved the film’s slow pace, its score and the dreamy feel it conjures up, however I could hear from the audience I saw it with that it wasn’t for everyone. Perhaps people come to this expecting more frequent laughs, the trailer does perhaps lead you that way. It’s certainly not a lie that this film has a strong comedic bone, it’s often jet black in its humour and when it deploys it it’s often hilarious. But the film is also an emotional and aware piece of work that is commenting on many things and deserves to be taken seriously. Perhaps that is why it has chosen an amazing cast who are excellent comedians but who can also play with the best of them when it comes to dramatic roles. I’m talking about people such as John C Reilly, Ben Whishaw, Olivia Coleman, Colin Farrell, Ashley Jensen and Ariane Labed amongst others. They all have the ability to bring human depth to their characters whilst delivering witticisms, and when placed alongside more dramatic actors including Lea Seydoux and Rachel Weisz the film succeeds at being both effective satire and a poignant story.
Odd, witty, mysterious, affecting, profound, violent, exhilarating, intoxicating, smart, difficult… these are all words which can be used to describe The Lobster. Some of them I’ve used in this review, some not, but either way they don’t really do justice to what must be one of the most original films in years. It will divide audiences and its true that it isn’t for everyone but if you click with it as I did then you’ll consider it amongst the very best films of the year. Even if you don’t fall for it completely there is plenty of interest here for everybody from its starry cast to the strength of its script. You owe it to yourself to catch it and see what you make of it.
The Lobster is open in UK cinemas now, are you planning on seeing it? Let us know in the box below!