Is love when two people have similar identifying characteristics? Or is it their reproductive probability in a pair? Or maybe it’s all the same when your partner goes blind and you decide to gouge out your own eyes to join him in the blindness?
These and other metaphorical questions penetrate the very heart of Lobster, a disturbing and deep 2015 thriller that explores the absurd social relationship between Love and its consequences with black humor. With his fifth film (the first in English), the Greek screenwriter and director Yorgos Lanthimos explores yet another set of surreal social rules that must be followed literally.
In fact, the single guests of the retro hotel follow a strict plan to find the “right” partner, but if they are left alone after 45 days, they turn into animals. Watching the characters of Yorgos Lanthimos existentially and sometimes physically suffer due to his application of strange rules and propriety, Lobster reminiscent of a movie by Luis Bunuel, but much more accessible on an emotional level.
Yorgos Lanthimos and his trusted collaborator Efthymis Philippou build a meticulous world in which love and relationships are scrutinized and regulated by a strict set of codes, and in which man and his desires are pushed to the extreme. There is no magic or trick that can make these rules come true, and this dystopian world does not take place in a futuristic landscape.
The action of The Lobster takes place here and now, but it exists according to an increasingly complex set of procedures by which people must find a designated definition of Happiness. Initially, we find that freedom is granted only to those who are actively in partnership (gays or heterosexuals); later we learn that this status is enforced by the police.
David (Colin Farrell), just after a divorce, arrives at the hotel with his brother Bob, who could not find a mate and turned into a dog (playing puppies Jaro and Ryak, winners of the prestigious Palm Dog award in Cannes). .
During the admissions process, David is asked what animal he would like to be if he doesn’t mate, and he chooses – exactly – a lobster. Most people choose a dog. But David’s choice remains kafkayanasince the lobster is a marine relative of the roach.
However, his reasons for choosing lobster are much more important: Lobsters live up to 100 years and remain fertile throughout their lives. hotel manager (Olivia Colman) explains that if he doesn’t find a “match” and turns into a lobster, he will have to mate with another lobster. Mixed pairs of animals like a penguin and a wolf “would be absurd,” she says.
When a man begins his stay at the hotel, he is instructed not to masturbate; instead, an agonizing motivation is applied when the waitress (Arian Labed) briefly rubs against him, which is an additional incentive for David to find a mate.
The opening moments of “Lobster” can be shocking and strange, but in typical Yorgos Lanthimos style, they become increasingly unsettling. Theatrical performances that show how couples don’t have to worry about rape or possible strangulation, demonstrating the importance of the “two are better than one” dogma.
New couples are announced, applauded, and after two weeks of probation and another two weeks alone on a yacht, the couple is allowed to return to the world. If there are quarrels, the management of the sanatorium provides a child on which the couple can concentrate their strength. “That usually helps,” the director adds. As for leisure, singles are taken out into the forest, supplied with pneumatic guns and invited to hunt “loners”, single people who have escaped this mating system. Each solitaire shot with a pistol earns you an extra day at the resort.
But, as David soon learns, “loners” (led by an impenetrable Lea Seydoux) have their own set of hard and fast rules: you can masturbate anywhere, but you can’t flirt, kiss, or have sex with others. You can dance, but only alone and to electronic music. And you have to dig your own grave in case something happens to you.
Meanwhile, David befriends two other men at the hotel, one is lame (Ben Whishaw) and one with stutter (John S. Reilly). Their respective “signature” sums up their existence.so much so that a woman without a limp and a stutter would be an unsuitable match. When Whishaw’s character targets a young woman (Jessica Barden) is prone to nosebleeds, he starts banging his head when she’s not looking at him, just to give the impression that she’s suffering from the same problem.
Yorgos Lanthimos it enhances interpretations that appear outwardly as modulation Orwellian but they burn with desire inside. Colin Farrell’s controlled acting is unlike anything the actor has ever done before, as the Greek director asked him to hide this expressive talent under a gaudy, sober exterior.
Notice how his character seems to want something more, yet we see how he restrains his desires and instincts to comply with the strict procedures that have been forced upon him. The slight inflections in his usually monotonous voice show a more emotional or nervous David. AND careful and brilliant interpretation.
Rachek Weiss narrates the first two-thirds of The Lobster in her own voice, reading sincerely from her diary and proving once again that she wants to feel the feelings too.
Throughout the film, the actors are asked to recount their dialogue with frankness that seems to exist only to confirm their adherence to the rules; inside, many of them yearn for more, but cannot speak the words directly. At the same time, there are those who are desperate to find a mate, like Ashley Jensen’s character, a woman who offers David cookies or sexual favors and then promises to throw herself into the void before turning into an animal. The result is much more disturbing.
Such systems of behavior have accompanied the work of Yorgos Lanthimos since time immemorial. To think about Fang from 2009 (review), in which three lonely teenagers must follow the strange rules of their overprotective parents. OR Alps since 2012 about people who are in business posing as dead loved ones of their clients to ease their grieving process. Its surrealistic configurations are unique for modern cinema, fully mastered and finally recognized as high cinematic art.
His storytelling is deliberately slow and deceptively restrained.; however, there are some tragically romantic elements in The Lobster. Filming in Dublin, cinematographer Timios Bakatakis captured the perpetually overcast sky and its subdued lighting reflected in the actors’ simple, monotonous outfits. Each character feels surrounded by their clothing and environment, as well as their social structure. The music, rich in the strings of Strauss, Stravinsky and Beethoven, adds melancholy and, in some cases, horror to the events.
After the Lobster is finished, we need to go back and think about the original sequence before the titlein which the womanJacqueline Abrahams) is driving through the countryside, incredibly agitated, until she suddenly stops, gets out of her car, and shoots the donkey in the head. Another donkey nearby comes up to look at the dead one. We feel some sadness for the survivor. The woman returns to her car. What do we do with this scene, which is not mentioned once for the remaining two hours?
Much of The Lobster is like this, where we have to remember the moment the rule was explained and come back to it later. Yorgos Lanthimos this does not make his film impenetrable, but it does not make it easy for the viewer either..
Meanwhile, we laugh at awkward (sometimes extremely painful) interactions between people, or how a Greek director combines two funny ideas into one fun idea, like a Solitaire dance party where these people dance in a forest at night. to electronic music in close proximity to each other, but each in their own headphones. Together in their loneliness. This makes the scene in which the characters of Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz try to sync even more poignant.
The Lobster is not only a surreal exploration and allegory of modern love. it’s also gentle. The fact that it mixes the disparate ideas of surrealism and genuine romanticism is truly rare, putting it on a par with Charlie Kaufman or Spike Jonze. And just like the films of those American directors, this one too stands out as a unique piece of art that will demand audiences return time and time again to its dark, glamorous, enigmatic and often humorous appreciation of Love.
Search below italian full trailer from Omar: