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MOVIE REVIEW: FTN reviews The Lobster

October 21st, 2015 by Conor ONeill Comments

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The Lobster (15)
Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Jacqueline Abrahams, Roger Ashton-Griffiths & Jessica Barden
Running time: 118 min

In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.

Well, I’ve sat back for an hour or so and tried to digest The Lobster, and unfortunately after 60-odd minutes, I really am none the wiser. I’m just glad I wasn’t hit by a car on my way home and woke up to some psychiatrist scouring through my notes; if he or she was to decide my mental state on my scribbles I would undoubtedly be sectioned, and with very due cause.

A few excerpts read: ‘heterosexual or homosexual choice’; “a wolf and a penguin could never be together” – an actual verbatim line from the film; ‘faked nose bleeds’ and most bizarrely weird punishments such as a hand held in a toaster for its owner’s masturbating sin; the dreaded ‘Red Kiss’ or worse still, the ‘Red Intercourse’. On the latter I don’t want or could even state what was being implied; pigs were mentioned. I’ll say no more.

The Lobster is the English language debut of Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth) and welcomes a whole roost of big names playing strange characters in a strange dystopian or, depending on your world view, utopian world. Colin Farrell plays David who finds himself single after 12 years of marriage. In Yorgos’s future society being alone is illegal and all those who find themselves alone are sent to The Hotel for 45 days with the hope they’ll pair up with someone. If after the ultimatum they’re still single, they simply get transformed into an animal of their choosing; in David’s case that means being a lobster. Why? Well, our architect protagonist believes they live for a long time and he likes the ocean.

You did read that last paragraph correctly.

Assigned to room 101, a nod to arguably Orwell’s best work, the first 45 minutes of the film does make a kind of sense. We’re treated to am-dram focusing on the dangers of a man without a woman, mainly choking to death on steak. Females obviously have the gumption to chew food with consideration and therefore their deepest worry is being raped. With the countdown blaring from a speaker every morning David is hurried along to suitable partners while trying not to be overly keen. The authorities can tell when you’re faking it. Narrating and co-starring is Rachel Weisz (Oz the Great and Powerful). Given a character with no name to mention and as her identity is anonymous to the point of filling in nothing whatsoever, her character leaves the viewer wondering how she came to choose this movie. And that’s just the first half of our one hour and 58 minutes of confusing plot/plots.

After begrudgingly watching this clipped conversation, starkly shot and deeply intriguing beginning, The Lobster descends into farce. The Loners – those who’ve escaped The Hotel – a woman obsessed with skewered rabbit, more unrequited and understated love, codes suggesting all sorts, and a meandering plot too far up its own bum to be remotely believable. Escapism keeps us going. Look at X-Factor’s ratings. But to not to pull off something with so much promise declares a vision gone astray or a vision not fully thought through to begin with.

The rest of the cast includes Olivia Colman, Ashley Jenson, Ben Wishaw, John C Reilly and Arian Labed. All put in good performances, unfortunately granted with such a monumentally dire, drudge-filled script and plot they or the pulling power of Farrell and Weisz cannot possibly save the dampest squid of a movie, in my opinion, to be committed to celluloid in many years.

The Lobster could have been so much. Unfortunately, I’ve spent three and a half hours watching it, thinking about and writing about it to waste any more time. Equally, you’ve spent five minutes reading my harping. Please don’t spend two hours and six-odd-quid with this mess of a movie.

1 out of 5 Nerds

1nerd

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Conor O'Neill is at times a playwright and a qualified journalist. He has worked for the Belfast Telegraph, Portadown Times and South Belfast Advertiser. He also contributes to various online e-zines, specialising in theatre, gig reviews and other cultural events. If you were to ask him what he does, he will say 'I'm functioning'... that's a lie. Best suited to pressure and deadlines, O'Neill thrives on the moment, the passion and the thrill of now, he's only happy when he's watching or reviewing a play.

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