The Lobster

A Surreal World

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

The Lobster

The Lobster has drawn a wide range of response from critics – most of it positive – for Yorgos Lanthinos’ profoundly disturbing story. Viewers expecting the ordinary may find it a profoundly unpleasant experience. Others may see it as a clever comment on traditional values. The otherwise silent atmosphere on the night I saw it was punctured periodically by sudden, piercing howls of laughter from single individuals that sounded like the appropriate reaction for anyone struck in the heart by the dagger of something too close for comfort.

Billed accurately, if with ludicrous understatement, as “an unconventional love story”, the premise holds that our present culture mandates that every human being be part of a couple. Toward that end, single people must turn themselves in to a hotel where they may stay for 45 days while looking for a mate. Anyone who fails will be turned into the animal of his choice. David chooses to become a lobster if he fails to find a woman.

Residents can earn extra days by joining teams that prowl the surrounding woods to shoot escapees – called Loners – with tranquilizing darts. Requirement for coupling: the pair must have some disability in common – two limpers, two lispers, two nose bleeders.

Olivia Colman is excellent as the hotel manager who sets the grim tone. John C. Reilly earns our sympathy as he searches in vain for a fellow lisper. David (Colin Farrell), who falls for Rachel Weisz, the short sighted tough resident, can find little in common with the woman he now loves. Prepare to suffer as he tries to qualify for her affection.

The system is devoid of warmth, understanding, humor, or the slightest whiff of humanity. Actors are walking robots, searching for partners who will qualify them to live as humans. We have plunged into the surreal with a director who loves what he’s doing.

If you can accept the downside, you may be able to see it as a humorous comment on the rigidity of the societal demands that govern us today. Get married, stay married, have at least one major quality in common – or be sentenced to being ignored forever by the society in which you live. Verdict: people are better off dead than alone. Not much fun, but it’s clever.

Some see this movie as a dive into a surreal world of gestures and words, a brilliant satirical comment on how we all live without knowing it – a social comment deserving of the highest praise made with imagination and skill by a man who has the respect of the industry. The movie was filmed entirely in Ireland by an army of people who made it with great care. Love it if you can, along with many critics.

It can easily be said that I am too unsophisticated to appreciate the metaphors of Mr. Lanthinos’ surreal vision. I just can’t. I didn’t like a minute of it. It turned me cold.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : The Lobster
Word count : 496
Running time : 1:59
Rating : R
Date : June 2016