As Spoiler Free As Is Humanly Possible
If you had to come back as any animal, what animal would you choose? Take your time. I’d choose a bird of some sort. Then again pesticides and pollutions.
Director/co-writer Yorgos Lanthimos would like you to consider the lobster both the animal and his film of the same name.
I have so much to say about this movie, but to even describe the inspired plot hook would spoil some of the fun. I’m a big believer in reader for-pleasure, the edging anticipation and climax unique to experiencing a story for the first time. So. This part of the review will try to convince you that The Lobster is worth your time without any major narrative disclosures.
Rereading or re-watching is full of merits, but so is a fresh emotional response. And The Lobster is an undeniably fresh film both on Rotten Tomatoes (90%) and on the originality scale.
The Lobster is an imaginative satire with a weirdness usually left to swim in the waters of literature. The film is ridiculous, smart, sad, funny, horrific, and boiling over with truths. It’s not for everyone, but it never once falls into boredom or the derivative.
And how could it with Lanthimos’ consistently unveiling new points of interest in his fleshed out society? Smart writing, Wes Anderson-esque characterization, perfectly executed acting (Colin Farrell proves he is no typecast) fantastic cinematography (seriously so good you barely notice it), a haunting score, and meticulous yet opaque world building generate an uncanny dystopia. The Lobster is the Hunger Games for adults with a deadpan sense of humor.
Lanthimos feature is truly singular in its creativity. Hate it or love it, you will not watch a film like The Lobster this year.
Very Slight Spoilers Ahead
The hook for The Lobster is this: the story takes place in a society where single people must find a mate within 45 days or be transformed into an animal. It sounds stupid, but let your guard down and Lanthimos lures you into this dystopia with such perfect pacing that suspension of disbelief is painless.
The film brings to light an interesting irony: we easily suspend our disbelief for The Hunger Games or similar dystopian films, but can’t when things get truly uncanny. The Lobster is only a slight mutation of our own world, an alteration so small its hard not to consider the real life counterparts of its satire.
This film is a class for filmmakers and storytellers on how to lure an audience into a world. Mystery and slow but meaningful info-cluing are your greatest tool, not heavy exposition and narration.
The Lobster may be absurd or “stupid” but it says more in that comedy of strangeness than most serious films in, above, or below its class.The satirical look at our obsession with relationships and the dominant narrative of companionship is surprisingly nuanced for the film’s absurdist trappings. The social constructs that uphold the arbitrary rules of relationships aren’t the only ones under fire here: single life gets its own investigation.
Lanthimos delivers a sophisticated satire that never lets the whole fall into simple allegory (a 1 for 1 metaphor). Lanthimos casts his net a lot wider and still reels in his ambitions. His film’s commentary is too dynamic and nuanced to be straightforward.
The Lobster cracks its wit with the evasiveness and complexity that pervade the nature of its topics: love, loneliness, friendship, and personhood.