Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Reviewed by: Lori Heiselman
FA Scorecard: C
This review of The Lobster may end up reading as a bit of a rant, simply because I can’t remember a movie that I loved so much at the beginning, and disliked so much at the end.
Personally, I love dark comedies, limit-stretching indie films and stories with creative settings where something odd – say, being turned into a lobster if you don’t find love – is normal.
I thought The Lobster was going to be one of my top movies of recent memory.
The Lobster started out strong. David (Colin Farrell) is a man who is desperate. He lost his wife, and now as checked himself into a hotel where he has 45 days to find a mate. If they are unsuccessful in their 45 days, they are turned into the animal of their choice and sent into the woods. The hotel’s managers lead the guests through classes, outings and some incredibly awkward dances to help the guests mingle in their search for true love.
Upon arrival, the guests are all assigned identical matching uniforms, and immediately have to state what animal they would like to be turned into if their journey is unsuccessful.
Hotel Manager: Now have you thought of what animal you’d like to be if you end up alone?
David: Yes, a lobster.
Hotel Manager: Why a lobster?
David: Because lobsters live for over one hundred years, are blue-blooded like aristocrats, and stay fertile all their lives. I also like the sea very much.
I should note that David enters the hotel with a dog, who happens to be his brother Bob. Bob didn’t fare so well when he attended the same program. I should also note that David and Bob are the only characters in the film that have actual names.
At first, the comedy was so creative and brilliant. Couples that are struggling are given children because that “usually helps a lot.” When the guests are being trained at the shooting range, the trainer/waiter says, “It’s no coincidence that the targets are shaped like single people and not couples.” When the guests are in the woods, frequently you’ll see a unicorn, camel or any other number of out-of-place animals strolling about. And the list of suggested things to do on your last day as a human made me laugh out loud.
But then there is a dark turn.
And this is where the film succeeds in the “dark” and not in the “comedy”. There were so many places where the funny could have remained, but instead the film just slowed in pace, the character development stalled, and while the story itself didn’t struggle, the humor completely fell apart.
I loved the creativity of The Lobster – and the writing style and dialogue is easily worthy of its Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay. Farrell is nearly unrecognizable as David. He gained a whopping 40 lbs for the film, which he flaunts with incredible confidence! Also, the set design and the humor in the opening scenes is clever and truly unique.
I can think of 50 other dark, creative comedies that you should watch instead of The Lobster. But if you have a chance to watch the first 45 minutes, please do.
Feel free to turn the film off when the hotel guest achieves her last wish and turns into a pony.
I really, really, really, really wanted to love this movie. But in a genre full of so much creativity, the Lobster’s dark second half falls short.