Singletons looking for love may feel under pressure spending a lifetime trying to find their perfect match but imagine if they had just 45 days or else face being turned into an animal? This is the bizarre and harsh world in which Colin Farrell's character David lives but surprisingly, sci-fi romcom The Lobster actually provides a clever and refreshing look at the expectations of society today.
Set in a dystopian future, David finds himself back on the market after his wife leaves him for another man. As is protocol for singletons in this new-age era, David is taken to an isolated hotel resort where men and women are forced to find a partner. Like the convenience of a dating app, this regime may sound like the perfect solution for single people to couple up but Disneyland it is not.
Under the stern rule of the straight-laced hotel manager, played brilliantly by Olivia Colman, David is read the strict terms and conditions of his stay before being asked to choose which animal he would like to be turned into should he fail in his mission to find love. Hence the film title, David requests he be turned into a lobster although, ironically, his reason is not because the creatures of the sea mate for life.
Yorgos Lanthimos's black comedy is entirely strange and a head-scratcher but its core message is certainly relatable to a large demographic – the general feeling that one is expected to find love and start a family or else be looked upon as an alien by society is nothing new. However, The Lobster's deadpan presentation of society's "rules" is certainly unique.
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Terrific as the awkward yet switched-on David, Farrell is undeniably the glue holding Lanthimos and Efthymis Fillipou's script together. His ability to carry the film on his own is even more evident when Rachel Weisz moves from her role as narrator to his on-screen co-star. She plays Short Sighted Woman, a singleton who was once a guest at the hotel but escaped to the nearby forest to live with the other "loners".
While they may have freedom from the restrictions of the hotel, the "loners" are still forbidden from developing romantic relations with each other. Still, at least their fate does not include being turned into a flamingo or camel. Weisz and Farrell have great on-screen chemistry, making for some light-hearted moments, but it is hard to deny the second-half struggles to maintain the spark and quick wit with which the film began.
Lengthy, drawn-out scenes focused on developing the relationship between David and the Short Sighted Woman are initially endearing but quickly become grating with the script progressively needing a burst of life. Nonetheless, The Lobster is a beautifully shot work of art accentuated by a perfectly haunting score. The ending is frustratingly ambiguous but, after spending almost two hours trying to decipher one of the barmiest pictures to debut at the BFI London Film Festival, it is hardly surprising.
Terrific as the awkward yet switched-on David, Colin Farrell is undeniably the glue holding Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Fillipou's script together.