• Review: The Lobster (2015)

    From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Mon Aug 15 07:31:04 2016
    THE LOBSTER (2015)
    A film review by David N. Butterworth
    Copyright 2016 David N. Butterworth

    **1/2 (out of ****)

    "Now, have you thought of what animal you'd like to be if you end up
    alone?" asks the proprietor of a luxury hotel ("Broadchurch"'s Olivia
    Colman), where guests get forty-five days to find a romantic partner or
    face transformation into an animal of their choice. "Yes. A lobster,"
    answers David impassionately. Sympathetically played by Colin Farrell,
    David's the spitting image of Homer Simpson's cheerful neighbor Ned
    Flanders, only paunchier and a lot more depressed. "Why a lobster?"
    "Because lobsters live for over one hundred years, are blue-blooded like aristocrats, and stay fertile all their lives. I also like the sea very
    much." "A lobster is an excellent choice."
    The Hotel Manager also reassures David that failing to fall in love
    with someone during his stay should not upset him. As an animal, after
    all, he will have a second chance to find a companion. But he must be
    careful to ensure the pairing is a harmonious one. Unlike a wolf and a penguin, or a camel and a hippopotamus. "That would be absurd."
    Ding, ding, ding. That's "The Lobster" in a nutshell, a dystopian
    satire of human relationships that's *way* out there, populated by strange characters in even stranger situations and, at least for the first of its
    two hours, entertainingly so. The deadpan, stilted delivery of its
    dialogue; the string-laden operatics of its music; the whole artsy
    weirdness of it all--these elements place a clever spin on an already intriguing trashing of coupledom. But the absurdity of Yorgos Lanthimos' film--he made the absurdist black comedy "Dogtooth" in 2010 so we might
    have anticipated something equally outlandish here--eventually outstays its welcome, growing increasingly tiresome in its second act, despite the best intentions of everyone involved.
    And this *is* an excellent cast. Farrell, Colman, Rachel Weisz (who narrates, and plays a short-sighted "Loner" David meets in the woods), Lea Seydoux (leader of these vehemently-single rebels who are hunted for points
    by the hotel guests), Ben Whishaw (man with a limp), John C. Reilly (man
    with a lisp), Ashley Jensen, and Michael Smiley.
    Lanthimos and co-writer Efthimis Filippou construct a singular and ambitious vision, rich with symbolism and observant commentary about
    societal pressures to pair up. Observant, *and* droll:
    "Have you ever been on your own before?" "No, never." "Your last relationship lasted how many years?" "Around twelve." "And the dog?" "My brother. He was here a couple of years ago but he didn't make it."
    Would you rather endure a predictable saga that stays the course, or invest in an unusual film that sadly peters out? "The Lobster" creates
    *such* a vital and inventively odd world that it's all the more
    disappointing when it runs out of steam.

    David N. Butterworth

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