Colin Farrell (In Bruges) plays David, a man who recently lost his wife. According to the rules of the city in which he lives, he is sent to a hotel in the countryside which is occupied entirely by other single people. Each person is allotted 45 days to find a significant other among the hotel population. If they fail to find love during this time, they are turned into an animal (David decides he would want to be a lobster). Each relationship is based upon the two partners sharing a “Defining Characteristic”, but since no else in the hotel shares David’s (near-sightedness), he decides to fake having a different Characteristic to achieve romance. This goes poorly, and as a result he ends up a fugitive in the wilderness with the hotel staff and guests hunting him. There he discovers a resistance group made up of Loners, who have sworn off any sort of romantic relationships. But it is here that he finally meets a woman who shares his Defining Characteristic (Rachel Weisz, The Fountain) and he finds himself falling in love despite himself.
Subversive, absurdist, and incredibly entertaining, The Lobster is a dark comedy and (sort of) science fiction story from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos. Although it possesses the sci-fi conceit of turning humans into animals, the film is really a dark, cynical commentary on the nature of relationships, the lack of a relationship, and the act of looking for a relationship. Lanthimos’ sense of humor is incredibly pessimistic and seemingly knows no bounds. His jokes take aim at everything from dating to marriage to raising children to suicide. This movie made me laugh at some truly awful subjects, which I think is the hallmark of a brilliant comedy writer. That, or I’m just a terrible person with a really twisted sense of humor (probably both).
The humor is also incredibly dry, despite its absurdest tendencies. It almost reminded me of classical British humor like Python, although in this movie pretty much every actor plays a straight man. This creates a really interesting dynamic because the fact that no one on screen seems to acknowledge or even notice any of the insanity surrounding them makes everything happening both funnier and more disturbing to the audience. Speaking of which, the cast for the film is excellent; Farrell and Weisz play the leads, but the movie also features the likes of Ben Whishaw (Skyfall), John C. Reilly (Wreck-It Ralph), and Léa Seydoux (Inglourious Basterds).
This sort of dark, surreal comedy is certainly not for everyone, and I’m sure that both the unusual premise of the film and it’s incredibly cynical comedy will probably turn a lot of people off this movie. But I urge you to give this film a chance. It’s so rare that we get to see such an wholly unique and original film, not to mention how incredibly funny it is. If you’re like me and you’re tired of the same old formulaic stuff Hollywood keeps pumping out, then do yourself a favor and go see The Lobster. Just don’t come crying to me afterwards if it offends you.