I can’t get The Lobster out of my head. It has been plaguing my thoughts ever since I saw it about a week ago. Luckily, this is in a good way; this film is intelligent, dense, and subtle, and may insert itself into your thoughts like it did mine.
The Lobster follows a man named David (Colin Farrell) who, after breaking out of an 11 year relationship, is transported to “The Hotel,” where he has 45 days to find a partner. If any guest fails to find a mate in those 45 days, they are transformed into an animal of their choosing. Some people run into the forest surrounding the hotel and become loners; you’re not an animal, but you cannot form a relationship.
This sounds like a dystopian premise, but the world feels more like an alternate reality. There’s no jetpacks, teleporters, high-tech buildings; instead there are forests, trees, dirt roads, etc. Basically, it feels rooted in reality and that makes it all the more scary, and this movie is scary, despite not being a horror film. David is the only character with a real name; everyone else is named by a defining trait they have (the limping man, short sighted woman, etc.) and it shows how devoid of humanity the society of the film is. Lines are delivered in a flat, monotone, almost robotic way. The performances here are certainly idiosyncratic, but they’re very simple and very uniform. They help define the film. In a world where there isn’t love because we can’t make it for ourselves and we are instead forced to, it’s no surprise that emotions are gone. The song used throughout the film (a leitmotif) adds to the horror; you feel that something is about to jump out and murder these people. And yet the movie is also hilarious; the delivery of the lines and the lack of emotion behind them is funny. The voiceover used throughout the movie is basically just being used to show how spelled out everything is in this world; it points out everything we see visually. The humor balances extremely well and there’s no mixed tone; there’s funny parts and there’s dramatic parts, and sometimes the contrasting tones just mix together, while the film still flows extremely well.
I don’t tend to notice the costume design of films, but it has to be praised here. Every person that stays at the hotel is given the same clothes, so no one can show off their body, giving them equal chances to find a mate. On the contrast, loners cover themselves up; they wear a poncho-like clothing so nothing can be seen of their body.
The camera tends to stay still throughout the movie. This gives a feeling of simpleness, reflecting the world the film follows. Director and screenwriter Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, Alps) does his job well, fully immersing us in this world. It was strange walking out of the movie; I felt as if I’d literally been transported into a different world, which is a feeling that I don’t get often, even with sci-fi epics taking place throughout different galaxies. It’s the power of filmmaking.
The Lobster showcases a strange world, and yet it’s captured so well and so subtly that it has to be praised. The ending is also something that will keep you thinking for a while to come. Be prepared for some heavy thinking afterwards.