Quick Hit: Thoroughly bleak and yet oddly moving, The Lobster is extremely strange but worth your time.
Satire and deadpan humor are extremely hard to pull off in film. I’m not sure if the medium just doesn’t lend itself well to it, or if there just isn’t enough of it, but there are very few examples of a successful deadpan humor film. The Lobster, which stars Colin Ferrell and Rachel Weisz, successfully checks that box. It is however extremely hard to watch at times, with some scenes full of breathtaking violence, and an air of pain that comes across in almost every scene. Sometimes this is emotional pain, and sometimes it’s physical pain.
Our main character is Colin Ferrell’s David – a man who is recently divorced and checks into The Hotel in order to find a new acceptable mate. If that sounds like a meet cute, you’re right – except for the fact that if he doesn’t find a new one in 45 days, he will be turned into a creature of his choice (most namely, a lobster – get it?). This dystopian world is remarkably similar to one that is written by Margaret Atwood that has taken our world by storm (Handmaid’s Tale for those uninitiated) in which relationships and sexuality are repressed and controlled by the government. It’s a harsh world, and director Yorgos Lanthimos walks us through it slowly at first, always surrounded by a score that is as haunting as it is playful.
Ferrell is nearly unrecognizable here – David is monotonous and rarely filled with much energy, as well as slightly out of shape and near sighted – but a hint of his normal manic energy is bounding below the surface. A rarely-ever better John C. Reilly provides some comic relief, as well as some absolute horror when you realize the depth of this world. The whole episode, probably more so than Handmaid, made me think of a feature length Black Mirror. But even that world contains a bit more happiness, a bit more hope – Lanthimos has completely sucked all that from the landscape, and instead has given us a world that is barren of all goodness and is simply just… there.
The score in this film is just unbelievable. It’s full of a lot of crescendoing instruments, mainly involving strings. Some of it is done by classical artists, like Beethoven, but some was more recognizable to my ear. It also pairs really well with the acting and the cinematography – there is a tremendous amount of natural light, which in turn leads us down the path that this film feels very real unfortunately. The gratuitous violence, while a bit shocking, is done pretty well from the effects side. But ultimately, this is Ferrell’s show, and David consistently gives us a character that we don’t necessarily want to root for, but we don’t want him to fail either. I mean, who wants to be turned into a lobster, regardless of their fertility in old age?
I can’t say I loved this film, because honestly, it may have been a little too out there even for me. But it was really well-made, and because of that, I’m giving it a “B”.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"