The Lobster is pure artistic self indulgence. A film so assured in its style and script to not laud its inventiveness seems like an impossibility (as far as the filmmaker is concerned). Confidence is key and director Yorgos Lanthimos is confident, making few accommodations for the sake of audience patience. The Lobster wants desperately to be remembered for its uncompromising, creative storytelling that would makes the likes of Charlie Kaufman and Wes Anderson proud. Unfortunately, its unique premise and dark humor cannot combat its surprisingly uncompelling plot. For the intellectuals among us who find poignancy from this bizarre tale, all the power to you; for the rest of us, make sure you bring a caffeinated drink.
At its core, The Lobster tackles the desire for companionship, or lack thereof, through the lens of a dystopian society where being single has been outlawed. Some people fear being alone; this ups the ante. If you unceremoniously become single (e.g. divorced, widowed), you are sent to a hotel for 45 days in order to find a new companion. In the event you are unable to find one in the allotted time, you are turned into an animal. As far fetched as this sounds, it is a fascinating world to see in motion and makes for a thought-provoking outline.
The film itself centers around David, played by Colin Farrell, who is recently divorced and in need of a new mate. We follow his progression through the hotel’s “program” as he struggles due to his insipid persona and the social ineptitude of those who inhabit this society. David can be a tough protagonist to relate to and figuring what makes him tick seems futile. The film shines when David interacts with the various guests and employees in the hotel–exploring their pasts are far more interesting than David’s own.
In terms of a genre, The Lobster covers the gamut. Is it a romance? a dramedy? perhaps sci-fi? The film wears many hats and, much to the audience’s chagrin, none fit quite right. This can make for an awkward film going experience; while I laughed a good deal, others may have held back, bemused over the film’s absurdity. The love story introduced midway through is distinct and has its sweet moments, but feels tiresome mostly due to its late entrance.
In a nut shell: If I can use my parents as a barometer, they would say they liked The Lobster, but upon further discussion I would find out they only watched a portion of it. My father would fiercely debate its meaning and appeal, despite being unable to sit through the entire film. The Lobster is artsy to the nth degree and screams ‘independent film’. The world constructed is smart, often hilarious, and unique, but The Lobster spends far too much time being pleased with itself. While I found the first half quite charming and very funny, the second half puts its feet in the ground and drags to the finish line. (2.5 out of 4)