The work of director Yorgos Lanthimos has brought us some of the most in depth studies of outlandish and often dangerous weirdos. In Dogtooth he provided a look into the murky depths of a dictatorial family unit that had been fed misinformation in some form of mini Orwellian nightmare. In The Killing of a Sacred Deer he brought us a showcase of the curses that could come from strange young men, and the impact it can have on a tight, upper class family unit. But what would a Lanthimos film without that specific family unit look like? The Lobster catches the reverse effect, and how a lack of family can lead to even stranger and more nightmarish dystopian horrors.
With that unique style in mind, it’s no surprise that The Lobster brings out the best in both its director and cast. A cast led by the ever-enjoyable Colin Farrell is as strong as you would expect it to be. Farrell stars as David, a single man that finds himself alone after his wife leaves him for another man. He is given forty-five days to find a suitable partner, otherwise he will be turned into an animal of his choosing. He finds himself living at a hotel, ran by The Manager (Olivia Colman), awaiting a suitable partner. His search for “true love” comes in the form of several encounters throughout his stay in the hotel, his time dwindling as he desperately searches for someone to share the rest of his useless existence with. A bit like reality, just this is set in a hotel.
As ever, the stilted dialogue is a real charm, and the awkward situations the characters find themselves in are presented as matter of fact, day to day styled troubles. It’s as if these scenarios happen too often to speak of, and the characters within accept their dystopian lifestyle. If anything, this is a real credit to the world building skills that Lanthimos brings to the table. Making his characters believe these intrinsically weird oddities are commonplace is one thing, but it’s his ability to convince his audience also that it is a normal, everyday act that impresses me most of all. How we can invest in a story that features humans turning into animals and John C. Reilly talking with a lisp is beyond me, but somehow it works in incredible fashion.
Reilly’s role is paired up nicely in brief scenes with Farrell and Ben Whishaw. The film is packed to the brim with talented individuals that have some great films behind them. From Rachel Weisz connection with Farrell to Léa Seydoux’s talented and embittered portrayal of a rebellious militia leader.
Lanthimos’ direction here is possibly some of his strongest, bringing to life one of his most interesting stories of all. Following one of Farrell’s stronger performances is a real treat, as is the writing and rest of the performances collectively littered throughout the film. A tension to the actions of individuals mixed with a sort of wry charm leaves The Lobster as one of the strongest Lanthimos films to date.