Finding stories that are original and not adaptations from previously successful mediums is a rarity. But what’s even more rare is when the original concept is as witty, well-written, and executed as The Lobster.
We open with a woman casually driving down a country road in the rain. Nothing is out of the ordinary as we are traveling silently. Then, she pulls over, and through the wet windshield, we see her pull out a pistol and shoot a donkey–who for all intents and purposes–was just enjoying the roadside foliage.
With no further explanation, we transition to a paunchy and complacent David, played by Colin Farrell, being told to leave his home and marriage. His wife no longer loves him and has moved on to another man who also wears glasses. So now, David must check into the only place singles can go: The Hotel. In this near-future, dystopian society, you are either in a couple or a loner. There are no half sizes, no bisexuality, no dating. You’re in or out.
All of the inhabitants of The Hotel have 45 days to find their partner within the building or they are transformed into an animal of their choosing. David looks affectionately at his dog who is actually his unlucky-in-love brother before saying he would like to be a lobster. He has his variety of reasons, one of which is because they are blue-blooded, like aristocrats.
It’s this dry humor that runs through the entire film creating head-shaking laughs and polite giggles. John C. Reilly plays “Lisping Man,” a man desperate to find love but also completely accepting of his fate. His dumbwittedness is what makes him charming to the film as seen in the below clip.
You don’t know whether to root for the humans to fail and turn into animals or if you want them to find love and be as happy as their society allows them to be. Another inhabitant in the hotel is so desperate to find a partner, he bashes himself in the face to create nosebleeds just so he has something to talk to his target about.
When you find your partner, you are upgraded to a double room at the hotel for two weeks. If those two weeks go well, you transition to a yacht before being thrust back into The City as a bona fide couple.
In complete ceremonious fashion, when someone finds a partner, they are hoisted on stage and rewarded in front of all of the others whether to inspire or pressure the singles. The Hotel Manager congratulates the couple with their new room key and says, if they encounter any problems or have any arguments, they “will be assigned children. It usually helps.”
David’s clock is running out. He is getting desperate to find a partner, but when things get down to the wire, he decides to run away from The Hotel and find the Loners hidden in the woods. The Loners are a group of people who have resigned to being by themselves with their own leader played by Lea Seydoux.
Their ideals are exactly the opposite of The Hotel, but they are as strict to their rules as those in The Hotel. The Loner Leader forces everyone to dig their own grave upon joining because no one else will do it once they die. But after a few short days, David meets the Short Sighted Woman played by Rachel Weisz, who he falls in love with.
Other than David, characters are not given names in this alternate universe. People are not individuals. They are drones in a monochrome, complacent city reminiscent of 1984 or Brave New World where nothing is out of the ordinary or unplanned.
For the first time in a long time, I found myself laughing out loud in this movie. The complete deadpan delivery of hilarious lines gives a “should I laugh” feeling until you have no choice but to giggle. David says at one point, “That makes perfect sense.” I laughed out loud and impolitely because nothing in this film made “perfect sense” and for him to say so in such a monotone way fit the tone of the film so perfectly.
I had a really hard time writing my thoughts about this film down because I had no other words than “this movie is hilarious, and you have to see it.” How can I possibly explain the brilliance of the dialogue and the complexity of the acting in a blog entry?
After seeing the trainwreck that was True Detective season 2, I was wary about Farrell’s performance, but he was so perfect as a silent and beaten man on the edge. Ben Whishaw and John C. Reilly really let their acting chops out with these roles. They balance so well between cartoon behavior and a Stepford Wives-esque plastic smile delivery.
I have no other words, really, besides–you must see this film. I cannot remember the last time I so enjoyed a comedy in the cinema and found myself wanting more out of the film.
5 out of 5 stars