Just about a year ago at this time there was much anticipation for the premiere of the Cannes Film Festival Competition entry The Lobster. It was the follow-up movie and English-language debut for Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, whose previous film Dogtooth was critically acclaimed and won a surprise Foreign Language Oscar nomination. But it was weird. Rest assured, even though he has a bigger budget, no English subtitles and a famous cast this time, The Lobster is just as weird. But I have to say that since seeing it for the first time last May here in Cannes, it has definitely grown on me, and I have a much greater appreciation for the surreal absurdity of it all than I did at that first 8:30 AM screening that day at the Palais. It sticks with you and it is unlike anything else out there — although I am not sure it is for the popcorn crowd.
As I say in my video review above, the stars really bring this fable to life, and Lanthimos skirts the fate of so many foreign-language directors switching to English. There is nothing really lost in translation here since the concept is so bizarre it could have been dreamed up by a Martian and made just as much sense. In the solid year it has taken Lobster to reach domestic theaters it lost its initial U.S. distributor, Alchemy, and was then picked up by A24, which releases it today.
Colin Farrell plays a normal-seeming guy named David who has just been dumped by his wife. But due to the odd rules in the strange society in which he lives, singles — new or otherwise — have only 45 days to hook up with someone else or be turned into the animal of their choice and set free in the forest. (The Animal bits in the film are droll and priceless — very funny.) Anyway, after some quick failed attempts to mate again, David decides to make a break and join the alternative rebel society made of anti-romantic Loners. This is where he meets the intriguing Rachel Weisz, who plays a character called only Short Sighted Woman. A quirky relationship ensues, ironic in itself.
The script by Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou takes many detours but somehow makes all of this credible, delivering absurd comedy with a straight face and coming up with some astute parallels to our own lives. The acting is first-rate, with Farrell at his best in some time. Weisz is always watchable and delivers another sterling supporting turn here. I loved Olivia Colman as the stern Hotel Manager; she’s really coming into some great projects of late including her outstanding turn in AMC and the BBC’s currently running miniseries The Night Manager. Among the rest of the cast there are some nice moments supplied by Ben Whishaw as Limping Man, John C. Reilly as Lisping Man, and Lea Seydoux who plays the head of the Loners.
For those looking for a cup of bizarre in their cinematic diet, you just might eat up The Lobster. Ed Guiney, Ceci Dempsey, Lee Magiday and Lanthimos produced.
Do you plan to see it? Let us know what you think.