Film

Love Hurts in Lanthimos’s Daring ‘The Lobster,’ but It Beats the Alternative

by

Even by the standards of Yorgos Lanthimos, The Lobster‘s premise is a doozy: Colin Farrell plays a recently single schlub forced to report to the Hotel, where he has 45 days to form a romantic relationship lest he be turned into an animal of his choosing.

This is the plight of all singletons in The Lobster‘s world, as David’s dog, once his brother, would tell you if he were still capable of speech. “Lobsters can live for over a hundred years, are blue-blooded like aristocrats, and stay fertile all their lives” is David’s answer when he’s asked why he opted for the crustacean in question. He’s commended for his decision by the Hotel Manager (Olivia Colman) — most people pick dogs, she explains, which is why there are so many; endangered species are at risk because so few choose them.

Like everyone, she speaks in a disinterested deadpan, as though reading encyclopedia entries to a small child. The Lobster is Lanthimos’s first English-language film — Kinetta, Dogtooth, and Alps were all in his native Greek — but no aspect of his sensibility has been lost in translation. Rather, everything that made his prior works so distinctive and alarmingly entertaining is even more fully realized here: This isn’t a sterile dystopia, but the clearest expression yet of the ascendant filmmaker’s outré worldview.

Lanthimos’s consistently hilarious, borderline anti-humor slowly gives way to a romantic streak of surprising warmth. In her most transfixing performance since The Deep Blue Sea, Rachel Weisz serves as both dispassionate narrator and eventual love interest, her quiet voiceover accompanied by a lachrymose string section that lends the film its most overt emotional cues.

The Lobster

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

A24

Opens May 13, AMC Loews Lincoln Square