Film Review: The Lobster

Lobster poster

The Lobster Plot Summary:

In a society where coupling is mandatory, David (Colin Farrell) is sent to a hotel where he has 45 days to find true love, or be turned into an animal of his choice. Not only does he pursue potential suitors, but he comes into contact with the loners, a group of rebels who hide from society’s mandate.

If you ever wondered what a Wes Anderson horror movie would be like, this is it. The Lobster could not have opened in a more appropriate time. If you’re one of those people who constantly kvetch that movies are nothing more than franchises, and originality is a concept of the past, then put your money where your mouth is and seek out this film. This is the original movie you’ve been waiting for. While flawed, there are shades of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind here. This is a dark, unsettling and at times even depressing film, but also pretty damn funny. There’s definitely a strong element of Sci-Fi here, but I can’t stress enough how downplayed that is. This is a movie about people, albeit people who’ve been stripped of emotion and joy, but that’s the point.

Lobster pic 1

I mentioned Wes Anderson before, and the characters play out like they are in one of his films. It’s that type of mundane dialogue delivered in a very matter of fact manner. There’s even a cool voice over narration. While I was instantly intrigued with this concept, it took me a while to get into these characters. There’s not a lot of personality to any of them, but you slowly realize that’s the point. That’s what makes this movie brilliant. On paper, this is a complicated idea, but the film simplifies everything. It reveals information when it needs too. After seeing Captain America: Civil War where everything is over explained like a poorly written high school English paper, this was a breath of fresh air.

As good as the concept is, it’s still the characters who drive this. Colin Farrell and I have never gotten along. I’ve always found him flat as hell. It’s ironic that his most mundane character turns out to be his most charismatic and interesting. This is without question the best role he’s ever done (I haven’t seen In Bruges). Farrell finds a subtle balance that beautifully endears you to David. He’s this sad sack you root for, but also exhibits many of the worst qualities in this Logan’s Run-esque society. He’s kind of a jackass, but not in your face about it. He’s the perfect protagonist, as watching his reactions to all these ridiculous characters is the highlight of the film.

While all these people talk in a similar manner, it’s amazing how distinct they are. Rachel Weisz has always been a great actress in horribly mediocre films. She’s finally given a fantastic script and knocks it out of the park. You’re drawn to her every moment she’s on screen. John C. Reilly, an actor we always appreciate, plays the sympathetic goofball. There’s also a plethora of complicated characters who play all sides, like Ariane Labed as the maid, the Catwoman of the film.

Lobster pic 2

The movie creates extraordinarily layered villains. We see how this society affects them in different ways, as they lie and rebel against different ideals. Lea Seydoux plays a loner who holds the biggest grudge against this warped system, but she’s actually the most brutal character in the film. Ben Whishaw plays one of the guests at the hotel, a real unsettling, manipulative character, yet you completely understand his motivations. Angeliki Papoulia, who should get Oscar consideration, plays the Boba Fett of the film – a cold, calculating emotionless hunter who exposes this nonsense for what it is. While she arguably commits the most heinous act in the entire movie, in some sick way, you understand why she does it. Now that’s great filmmaking.

The first half of this film is excellent. Watching these people court each other is utterly fascinating. It’s like a Gladiatorial Match.com, but instead of a Roman coliseum, it’s a pampered spa. It’s so sick and twisted. What will keep this from being one of my top three favorite films of the year is the second half, which isn’t as strong. The last leg really drawls on. It almost becomes a different movie, but still plays in the same world. It’s fortunately saved by the great chemistry between Farrell and Weisz, and a truly villainous Lea Seydoux. The ending comes out of no where, but it’s one hell of a close.

I loved this film when I first walked out, but after thinking about it, I like it even more. The direction (Yorgos Lanthimos) and writing is top notch, albeit a sloppy third act. The score is hauntingly awesome, although over bearing at times. If you’re a big animal lover, I’m warning you right now for some not-so pleasant imagery. I wouldn’t recommend this film to veterinarians. If you’re also one of those moviegoers who needs everything explained when it comes to plot, and have preconceived notions that every movie has a plot hole, then stay away. Everything is not tied up in a neat little package. Get over it. This is a dark comedy in every sense, and a movie I guarantee will be brought up again come Oscar time.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (Really Great)

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Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.