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Film Review: The Lobster (2015)

A surreal satire about the nature of modern, romantic relationships, The Lobster centres on a man trying to survive in a dystopian society that places coupledom at the place of utmost importance. When his wife leaves him for another man, David (Colin Farrell) checks in to a hotel where he has 45 days to find a partner or be turned into an animal. Encountering strange guests and watching people attempt to pair up on the basis of tiny similarities (such as chronic nosebleeds) David fails to find real connection. He eventually manufactures a relationship with a psychopathic woman, but when she finds out what he has done he decides to leave the hotel for good. Joining a society of loners run by a coolly vicious and tyrannical leader (Lea Seydoux) in the forest, he meets a woman (Rachel Weisz) who, like he, is shortsighted. They fall in love but the rules of their society threaten to tear them apart. The Lobster stars an international cast that includes Olivia Colman, Ben Whishaw, and John C. Reilly.

Director Yorgos Lanthimos crafts a marvellous, deadpan, operatic, and disturbing tale, shot beautifully in three distinctive locations: the hotel, the forest, and the city. His filmic style is slightly reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s as they both share a proclivity for quirky characters, emotionless line delivery, beautifully composed scenes, and a dark story hidden beneath an initially pretty veneer. The absurd rules of the world are treated with seriousness by all the characters, which heightens the humour and skewers our real-world obsession with finding “the one” as well as highlighting the difficulty of being single today. The catch-22 of dating, which is being true to yourself while also presenting the most appealing version of yourself to attract a suitably matched partner, is played up for biting comedy. Also, there is an unintentional Friends reference. Lanthimos questions the nature of love and relationships by placing characters in artificial situations where they are tested in how much they really love each other and, subsequently, have to prove it (although he leaves the results up to speculation). At the same time, the protagonist enters a real, loving relationship that exists regardless of the rules and marks tentative hope for love in a crazy, cruel world. A bizarre yet amusing exploration of relationships, The Lobster is one-of-a-kind.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 tranquilizer dart guns

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