Pick an animal, any animal. How would you like to be transformed into that animal to live out the rest of your life in its natural habitat?
Confused? It gets crazier.
David (Colin Farrell) has just been left by his wife for a ‘better’ man. While for most people this would be pretty life changing for David the situation is even more dire. You see, in the future it’s illegal to be single. Police stop you in the streets if you’re out alone, demanding to see a marriage license. But the authorities are nothing if not fair and you can go on a holiday to a strange little resort in a last ditch effort to find a partner. If, after 45 days, you still haven’t managed to find yourself a partner then you get transformed into the animal you chose earlier on arrival. But for those who may take a little longer to find their life partner there’s an option to add days onto your stay by hunting ‘Loners’, the people who have chosen the opposite end of the spectrum — to be alone forever. In this society any flirting or romance has brutal consequences and by the time we are properly introduced to them we might question which side is preferable. It’s here that David falls in love with a woman who also suffers with short sightedness, a trait they have in common which is seemingly enough to deduce that they must be meant for one another.
It’s a world of black and white from the very beginning through to the end.There’s absolutely no room for rule breaking or middle ground. Total uniformity is required. Early on David is asked his shoe size and when he replies 44.5 he’s informed that there are no halves. It’s 44 or 45. No middle ground. No grey area.
Now if you’re thinking that this doesn’t exactly sound like a barrel of laughs then you’d be right. It’s classed as a comedy but other than a few laughs at the utter absurdity on display I wouldn’t recommend it to someone looking for a comedy, even a dark comedy really.
But would I recommend it? Absolutely. It’s definitely an acquired taste and not for everyone but it’s also possibly one of the most poignant, beautiful and understated love stories I have seen in recent years. The two stand out performances are from Colin Farrell and Rachel Weiss who bring low key despair and joy to the story of forbidden love. Olivia Colman is also fantastic as the brusque hotel manager, her clipped tones chilling the content of her words further. Ben Whishaw is also great as an early friend to David who takes matters into his own hands through rather drastic action to secure a mate.
Director Yorgos Lanthimos pulls no punches when it comes to the dark side of this comedy. Needless to say I don’t want to spoil anything here but there were at least two instances where I really needed to look away but at the same time was absolutely glued to the screen.
Not that you’d be wanting to look away for long though as The Lobster is visually exquisite! Shot mainly in County Kerry, Ireland it’s not only the locations but also the cinematography from Thimios Bakatakis that make the film stunning. It would be difficult to pause the film at any given second and not have it mistaken for a perfectly composited painting. It’s just that gorgeous and potentially my favourite aspect.
Go into the film expecting a love story and with a little patience for its meandering plot and you’re in for a treat.