Review of 'The Lobster'

lobster.jpg When this was first shown independent cinemas it had a number of good reviews and it's premise was appealing to me. Recently we picked up the DVD to have a look.

The film starts with David (Colin Farrell) checking into a rather unusual hotel with his brother, who is now a dog (!). We learn that people are given 45 days to find a romantic partner or else they are to be turned into an animal of their choice. If this happens David chooses to become a lobster. Daily the single residents of the hotel are given the opportunity to delay their conversion by going into the woods to hunt loners (using a daily allocation of tranquilizer darts). The residents are also subject to brutal punishments for not observing the rules of the hotel. David attempts to establish a relationship with “Heartless Woman” (Angeliki Papoulia), so-called as to his callous feelings towards anyone and everyone, by faking her personality but when she horrifically kills his brother (the dog) he breaks. He escapes into the woods to join the loners where he is told that any contact between them is forbidden and, not unexpectedly, punishable (also in hideous ways). During his stay he falls for Short-Sighted Woman (Rachel Weisz) by offering her loving gifts of dead rabbits…

This film is difficult to categorise. Romantic comedy, surrealist, and, most definitely, horror. I found it often very uncomfortable to watch with the violence extremely visceral and personal (the view of David's dead brother, as a dog, is particularly striking though there is another scene right at the very end with David in a bathroom ready to do something nasty where I frankly had to close my eyes). This violence was hard to ignore and overshadowed much of the other film. There are the occasional amusing moments but you certainly have to distance yourself from the people which, to be fair, is not that difficult as they are all played largely without emotion. The casual nature of the violence and the way it is so easily accepted is a large part of the horror here - I care little for most of the characters save, possibly, David though even this is a bit of a stretch.

The film is a statement about the pressures of modern society towards people having partners with single people (slight pun intended) left “singled out” and isolated. Here this is, of course, taken to extremes with society imposing severe punishment if this social norm is not met. The Science-Fictional aspect here of the transformation of human to animal is never shown with the film instead concentrating on the immediate unfolding events. Without the violence I think this could have been a film I would have liked but perhaps slightly less powerful in delivering its message.

I can't say I will be watching it again and I can't recommend “The Lobster”. Interesting and quirky, certainly, but I just found it so uncomfortable to watch. I can see why more avant-garde festivals would like this movie but for the rest of us just looking for something entertaining to watch it is not great. Watch it if you dare but don't blame me…

Rating: “Not great, but not the worse”

Review Date: 2017-07-29

Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos

Studio: Film4

Year: 2015

Length: 119 minutes

Genre: Horror