From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Wed Jun 8 00:10:58 2016
(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)
[WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD: This review tells some of the rules of
the strange world the story is set in.]
CAPSULE: This is an absurdist comedy drama that drops
the viewer in a world where people who are single have
a limited time to find a mate or they have to be turned
into an animal, but at least into a species of their
choice. I know--that makes no sense. But the freedom
to not make sense is the core of the story's style.
Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz star in the intriguing
look at the importance of having a spouse in our society.
Rating: high +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10
BEING JOHN MALKOVICH (1999) was a very original film. In the first
half hour or so the Charlie Kaufman's script introduced three or so
really off-the-wall changes to reality and then the film just
played out with those strange ideas. At the time it seemed odd
that these weird ideas could unapologetically be presented without
being explained or justified. THE LOBSTER takes the same approach
of throwing in absurdist premises but they never stop raining down.
While the world setting looks deceptively like our world, the
viewer is never allowed to feel he/she really understands what is
going on. Strange ideas just keep being added to the mix.
David, a nebbish played by Colin Ferrell, is facing the trial of
his life. He has gone to a hotel where single adults are sent to
find a mate among the other people searching. If a person fails to
find a life-partner by a fixed deadline he is turned into an
animal, but an animal of his choice. The person who finds a
partner must show that the partner will have something enough in
common with the chosen mate, even if the similarity is something
like that each has frequent nosebleeds. Some of this may be
speculation, since the rules are mostly communicated by viewer
deduction. These are people depersonalized by the entire
situation. Most are given no names but a characteristic they have.
Leading characters include the limping man (Ben Whishaw, best-known
as Q), the lisping man (John C. Reilly), and the heartless woman
(Angeliki Papoulia). There is some hope. Out in the forest there
is a counter-movement of Loners who have banded together, contrary
to their name. There the narrator of the first half of the film
incarnates as the near-sighted woman (Rachel Weisz).
This may sound strange, but many of the rules of dating and finding
a mate are very recognizable. Every day we see people desperate to
find a mate. This film of a foreign yet occasionally familiar
world was directed by Yorgos Lanthimos based on a script he co-
wrote with Efthymis Filippou. This is their first English language
One obvious problem is the camerawork. Perhaps it is intended to
be disorienting, but shots are incorrectly framed. People appear
in the frame only up to the shoulders or only one side of the body.
Somehow the film loses some of its initial joy of discovery when
the novelty of new strange concepts wears off a little. I hope we
hear more from Lanthimos. I rate THE LOBSTER a high +2 on the -4
to +4 scale or 8/10.