Writer: Yorgos Lanthimos
Cast: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Michael Smiley, Angeliki Papoulia, Ashley Jensen, Oliva Colman, Jessica Barden
Running time: 118mins
The lowdown: The crazy little thing called love has meat in its claws in The Lobster. Colin Farrell is David, a resident of The City, where singlehood is outlawed. Recently divorced, he has 45 days to find another partner in a luxury hotel or be transformed into an animal of his choosing (the eponymous lobster). Funny and disturbing, sometimes simultaneously, think Being John Malkovich meets The Notebook with script notes by Franz Kafka.
The full verdict: The Lobster opens with an act of donkeycide. By the end of the film you’ll understand why, if you even remember the opening. Dogtooth director Yorgos Lanthimos crams in so much bizarre incident, a second viewing is pretty much mandatory.
A dystopian love story along the lines of Fahrenheit 451, Logan’s Run and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the film continues Lanthimos’ distrust of ruling organisations.
And like his other films, the rules of The City are clearly set out. Everyone must have a mate, everyone must procreate, must be scrupulously honest, “self-pleasure” is outlawed and single people are fit only to be animals.
To get more time than their allotted 45 days, guests of the hotel hunt “Loners”, single people living in the woods who are turned into animals in their place.
Like all great love stories, rules are broken. David first does this by pretending to be as psychotic as The Heartless Woman (Papoulia), while The Limping Man (Whishaw) painfully fakes nosebleeds to prove his compatibility with Nosebleed Woman (Barden).
If those character names aggravate, The Lobster isn’t for you.
David has more luck with Short-Sighted Woman (Weisz), a Loner camped out in the woods. But, Loners have their own rules, the inverse of The City’s but just as brutally enforced.
All this may be a commentary on the shifting trends of dating in the internet age, where online sites present an idealised, one-note portrait. Modern technology, by the way, is conspicuously absent.
Or could it just be a bizarro comedy about the pitfalls of love and loneliness taken to surreal extremes?
Whatever, there is plenty enjoy. Not least a starry cast including upcoming Bond girl Lea Seydoux, John C. Reilly, Olivia Colman and Michael Smiley.
But, Farrell, replacing vanity with a doughy face and paunchy midriff, is the true star, a world of emotion in his monotone delivery and real comedy chops in a variety of oddball situations.
From that opening donkey abuse to an enigmatic ending, The Lobster is comic, cruel and sweetly sincere.
So, your everyday relationship basically.