Love is an interesting thing. Biological in nature, we talk to people, we become friends with some of them; we fall in love with others. Sometimes we fall so deeply in love that we become convinced that this person we love so much is “the one.” And then we fall out of love with “the one.” And then we meet another person, and then this person becomes “the one.” Love is irrational at the time, and biological after the fact.
These are questions that filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos seeks to explore in his new film The Lobster. The Lobster is an acquired taste, because it has no interest in explaining everything it puts forward, the story is not told conventionally, and it only *sort of* makes sense. I did not take to it immediately, and I doubt all will. The film is told in a style comparative to many auteurs, Lanthimos is not unlike Terrence Malick, or Alejandro Inarritu, or David Lynch; not everyone will love the film, and this cannot be ‘corrected’ necessarily.
The Lobster follows a dystopian future in which people who are unable to find a mate are sent to a hotel in which they have 45 days to fall in love lest they get turned into an animal. David (Colin Farrell) is sent there and doesn’t really seem to click. The film looks at many different people, and many different eccentricities (Among them John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw, and Rachel Weisz whom is introduced a little later).
Two critiques I’d like to get out of the way quickly. One is the use of a novelistic like narration. I have no qualms with a film being novelistic, often it is a boon. It is one of the strengths of The Lobster as well, but one that may go too far. Eventually one reaches a point where they wonder if this film would be better served as a book. I also suspect The Lobster may be a little long, several scenes meander with no point in sight.
The insights the film offers far outweigh the negatives. Every other scene there’s an analyses into relationships and commitment, and moments of dark humor and/or satire. The idea of courtship has been turned upon its head, bragging about muscles or money has been replaced with one deliberately giving themselves a nosebleed to impress women. Dialogue is stilted, humans have become awkward and robotic, because the idea of humans forming a true connection has died a long time ago.
The palette is gorgeous, Lanthimos is a true visionary; exhibiting control over every portion of every shot of every scene (the cinematography rivals Lubezki himself). The film is just as much a demonstration of technique and craftsmanship as it is a meditation on love and an exploration of human connection.
As entertainment, The Lobster is often a challenge because you’re left wondering where it’s going or what its endgame is or why on earth you should care. It’s not interested in telling you that, Lanthimos expects you to engage with his film. Some will think it’s pretentious, others will be rewarded for months to come. It provokes thought, it is not a film to take friends who aren’t introspective. It will force you to watch movies differently, and it will force you to think outside the box. This is not the movie that one can form a reliable opinion on in one night.
An easy recommendation, come what may.