The Lobster – BFI LFF Review

With one of this year’s most absurdist concepts threatening to break into mainstream territory is director Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster, set in a world whereby single people must find partners or be turned into an animal of their choosing. Short sighted David, Colin Farrell, has been abandoned by his wife and must go to a hotel to find another matching partner or become a Lobster. With facing the prospect of not finding a true partner and found out to be assuming as a matching candidate for another of the hotel’s resident, David flees to the woods and finds salvation from a rebellious group who vow to the virtues of being lonely, only to find one of the members, another short sighted woman, Rachel Weisz as his ideal partner.

The Lobster is wonderfully offbeat, absurd at times dark with well-crafted deadpan delivery. This is probably Farrell’s best comedic performance since In Bruges and even put a bit of weight on for the role to look like an everyday man. Lanthimos does very well to blend together quite a varying cast from the internationally recognised in John C Reilly, Rachel Weiss, Lea Seydoux to domestic familiar in Olivia Colman and Michael Smiley. But it’s Lanthimos’s familiar old hands in Angeliki Papoulia and Ariene Labed who more than often steal the scenes as the heartless woman and hotel maid.

Whilst the opening is enthralling for all its quirks, the story world begins to run into its limitations and eventually becomes the films own downfall. There are often quite a few questions left unanswered and in particular what potential piece of commentary The Lobster is trying to make with regard to societal pressures of being in a relationship. It’s own rules are a little unclear too which renders The Lobster as something that is conceptually enticing but not fully conceived. Visually it is quite mundane that befits its tone but it can wane a bit too heavily. For it’s obvious flaws and eventual derailment, The Lobster still remains one of the most original and amusing releases this calendar year that could reach cult status. With an internationally recognised cast, The Lobster could begin to push Lanthimos in the same band of offbeat directors as Wes Anderson and Harmony Korine.

****

Chris Aitken

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