After presenting Dogtooth – one of the finest, most innovative and resourceful dramas to have been released this side of the millennium, Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos has now collated a stellar, international cast for his first English language production, The Lobster. Though becoming more mainstream, he has remained faithful to that same sense of creativity and profundity that makes him such a special, contemporary filmmaker.
Set in a sort of alternate universe, not really a dystopian future, just a world similar to our own, but not quite our own – we meet David (Colin Farrell). Attached to his pet dog – who is actually his brother, David is checking in to a hotel, where the rule is simple: if you do not find true love with another, single guest then after a handful of weeks you will be turned into an animal of your choosing and released into the wild. There are a few too many dogs around, but David admits he’d be a lobster, but ideally he’d like to find a partner. However alongside new friends, played by John C. Reilly and Ben Whishaw, he’s finding it harder than he had hoped… until he meets the rogue traveller, the short sighted woman (Rachel Weisz). But it’s not real love between them – they just decide they are going to need to fake it in order to survive.
There’s a distinctive quirkiness about The Lobster which makes for a feature that feels very European, but at the same time bearing a deadpan, droll sense of humour that wouldn’t feel out of place in a British sitcom. That could perhaps be down to the fact the film features a who’s who of comedic acting talent, with roles for Olivia Colman, Michael Smiley and Ashley Jensen. It’s a notably funny endeavour, particularly in the expressionless narration by Weisz, but Lanthimos has balanced the lighter moments remarkably well – this being a film that, at times, is deeply sad and poignant, with a feeling of loneliness emanating off the screen.
But above all, The Lobster is a romantic tale, and while you may search for a greater, more profound meaning – a comment on contemporary dating or expectations in love and relationships – you may end up reading into this just a little too much. Now, who’s up for a game of Touch Guess Think Win?