London Film Festival: The Lobster, review

How far would you be willing to go to be happy? To find the person you are meant to be with? This is what The Lobster explores, it shows what people feel they need to do in order to find their significant other. Yorgos Lanthimos has a way of telling a story with unusual yet blisteringly sharp humour, all the while working with a script that tells an ordinary story in an unconventional way. This can be seen in his previous film Alps and Dogtooth.

Dogtooth is arguably his best work but he comes close with his latest about a hotel in which single people go in order to find a life partner in the confines of a rule-bound mini-society. For those who find “the one” they are given a holiday on a boat to test their relationship, assuming all works out they are set free into the city. For those who do not make it after their time is up, they are turned into an animal of their choice. They can earn extra days by hunting rogue guests who live in the woods.

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Quirky would be an understatement when it comes to describing Lanthimos’ work, he has a way of using deadpan acting and almost robotic performances from his cast. Colin Farrell plays David, a lonely guest at the hotel and reveals that he would like to become a lobster, assuming his stay in unsuccessful: he loves being by the sea and they live for a long time. He is immediately congratulated on his choice by the hotel manager as most people opt for dog. “That is why the world is full of dogs.” The story initially plays out within the confines of the hotel, here he meets Ben Whishaw and John C. Reilly, two equally lonely bachelors and after an incident involving another guest David flees and joins the hunted rebels in the forest. The hotel has its own house rules, one of which includes no masturbating anywhere, and for those who break any rule, they receive a swift and cruel punishment. The same goes for those in the forest. Whilst he’s on the run David meets another lonely soul played by Rachel Weisz and the tough but fair leader played by Léa Seydoux. Here the rules are equally unconventional including the fact that no romantic relationships can be formed. A rule broken by Farrell and Weisz, as the being a relationship in secret.

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Lanthimos’ story of finding love is his way of yet again holding a mirror up to society and asking is this acceptable? What extremes some people would go to in order to be happy with themselves. What people are willing to do to find that one person who will put up with them for the rest of their lives. It’s a brilliantly funny and touching alternative romantic comedy , which works mostly whilst within the hotel, but loses its way whilst in the forest. The moments between several characters are kooky, humorous, heartfelt and curious and it will leave you wondering what animal would you want to be?

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