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The Lobster

By Anthony Ray Bench | January 20, 2017

Despite having a promising premise and a superb cast, The Lobster ultimately falls flat due to its overtly dry humor and length. I wanted to like this movie, and as a matter of fact it had me for the first 45 minutes, but with the movie clocking in at just a minute less than two hours, it eventually became a chore to sit through the rest. The Lobster has a very peculiar sense of humor and tone; we’ve seen it all before in numerous Wes Anderson films, and as a matter of fact, if I hadn’t known any better I’d say it was Wes Anderson’s worst film to date. You have to give credit to director and co-writer Yorgos Lanthimos for closely mimicking Anderson’s style.

The Lobster has an interesting setup; in the future you get to a certain age, and if you’re not coupled up with someone you get transformed into an animal. Colin Farrell plays David, a socially awkward male who checks himself into The Hotel; a facility that serves as a last ditch effort for people to find their mates. This idea feels wasted on such a pretentious comedy; I’d love to see a science fiction movie where those who cannot find a spouse are exiled from society, or even flat out killed. Speaking as someone who is not married and not a parent, there is a lot of pressure to conform into everyone else’s perception of normalcy. These fascinating ideas are explored in the film, but just barely. Instead, The Lobster preoccupies itself with eccentric line deliveries and static shots that linger on for far too long.

David ends up fleeing The Hotel, and he aligns himself with a group of Loners, people who have forsaken both the coupled life and the unfortunate fate of turning into an animal. They have strict rules that forbid their brethren from having intimacy with one another, which doesn’t work out well for David, who quickly becomes enamored with Rachel Weisz’s character. It’s around the time David escapes The Hotel that the film becomes hard to sit through; at least within The Hotel the characters are interesting in a pathetic sort of way, The Loners are boring and indistinguishable from one another.

The Lobster just loses its charm at a certain point, and nothing interesting or exciting happens with the characters. The film’s score is a violin screeching assault on the ears, and the dialogue is cold and mechanical, completely alien in its delivery. It’s just not my kind of movie, and it completely overstayed its welcome for me. It’s not an atrocious mess, but it’s certainly not the brilliant masterpiece some people try to make it out to be. If you’re a diehard fan of Wes Anderson’s brand of filmmaking, just stick with what he has to offer, he can do films with these kinds of tones and characters in his sleep, and he can do it quite a bit better than this film can.

The Lobster (2016) Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos. Written by: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou. Starring: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, John C. Reilly

5 out of 10

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  1. Virginia Parker says:

    Very much enjoyed this review and the insightful commentary above. Had the impression this film was a delightful, charming love story which I found it not to be at all. I had to force myself to watch this to the very end. Scene by scene, it’s humor fell flat, its deadpan delivery not panning out at all. E.G. , How humorous was it to have a character cause his own nosebleeds to help him mate with an otherwise attractive young woman who couldn’t prevent hers? Misery loves company, so they say, and match ups arranged by disfigurements makes for more sad than funny. Thank you for helping to nail for me what seems to be a minority view, satire in the LOBSTER more blunting than sharp, its focus more depressing than impressing.

  2. Ty says:

    Anthony, your analysis is spot on. Going into this film, I saw there were mixed reviews and usually take that as a good sign. They took some risks. The crazy premise alone is right out of some wacky fairytale and played perfectly straight, which I sincerely enjoyed. I laughed out loud when Mr. Limp faked the nosebleed in the pool because it was so absurd, but reminded me of pathetic guys I’ve known that lie to get laid. When the heartless woman was choking on the olive in the hot tub? Wonderful. Several memorable characters, none of whom have names, (except the lead, David) but are addressed by their room numbers and defined by specific quirks. Damn, this crazy movie is totally working for me…

    …but then… our protagonist escapes into the nearby woods. This was a chance to really have some fun and create some contrast to the strict rules of the hotel. That would have been interesting! Instead, the autistic performances and dialog minus any interesting characters or situations becomes a long pointless drab slog that left me constantly looking at the clock. And the rules were pretty much the same, except now you are in the dirty woods and may be hunted for sport. The last half of this movie is so stupid and boring, I had trouble getting through it. Is this thing over yet? Should I stop this now? Is something going to happen? Then they tried to tack on a somewhat ambiguous ending. I usually let that slide if they earned it, but this film most certainly did not.

    And the most disappointing thing of all? This film could have been really good.

  3. Balashi says:

    You nailed EXACTLY how I felt about this film.. shortly after the Loner segment began, I realized I had lost interest and very nearly started fast forwarding near the end. And, as is so often the case with these kinds of quirky indie films, I knew about 20 seconds into the last shot that it WAS the last shot.. I had just said out loud “how much you want to bet THIS is where the movie ends?” and then it cut to black.. leaving the ending completely ambiguous and unfinished! It was a good watch for awhile, but it becomes a victim of its own deadpan style.

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