Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review: The Lobster

Check out this premise for a movie:
"Set in a dystopian universe, the film is set in a city—known only as The City—where singles are given 45 days to find a romantic partner or otherwise be turned into animals."
Frightened?  Intrigued?  I was all of the above as I went to the theater not knowing what to expect.  With a talented cast that gets the tone of the film and a director that is not afraid to tell his story, The Lobster is nothing short of a VERY interesting time at the movies.

Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos paints the peculiar picture of a special hotel where single people are taken to where they are given 45 days to find a partner. Those who fail to find a match are turned into an animal of their choice and released into the forest. Self gratification is banned but sexual stimulation by the hotel maid (without completion) is mandatory. The guests of the hotel attend dances and watch various propaganda extolling the virtues of partnership. They can extend their stay by hunting escapees (a group of outsiders called The Loners) with tranquilizer guns in the woods. Each captured Loner affords an extra day to find a partner.  Yes THIS REALLY is the plot of the film.  It's so bizarre to watch and one can not help but be intrigued.

Colin Farrell plays the lead role of David, a middle-aged man who is ending his marriage after his wife had been unfaithful to him.  He checks into the hotel and meets other single people in similar situations including a hilarious lispy character played by the always amazing John C. Reilly. David tries to force himself to fall in love with an emotionless woman in an attempt to get back to the city and avoid becoming an animal.  The title of the film stems from David's personal choice of animal should he not find love in 45 days.

Towards the middle of the movie, David attempts to escape the hotel and live with the group of Loners on the outside.  We meet two key characters during this portion of the film in the Leader of the Loners (Léa Seydoux from Spectre) and "The Short Sighted Woman" played by Rachel Weisz.  David finds a suitable match in the latter and they try to fall in love despite all the rules of the Loners (different rules than the Hotel rules, but particular and strange all the same).

All of the actors are great in this movie.  Farrell is muted and nuanced almost like Joaquin Phoenix in Her.  Seydoux is so intriguing to watch.  She has this unique, beautiful face that pulls you in every-time she's on-screen.  Weisz is not in the movie all that much but her narration pulls the whole film together.  The film sort of falls apart a bit towards the end but I have to say that I was full-on engrossed in the story the whole time.  I think part of the.  Lanthimos is trying to give some sort of social commentary on modern-day marriage but I'm not sure I really got his message.  That being said the entire movie is fascinating to watch.

The Lobster is an extremely unique and strange film.  The ending is so abrupt and slightly frustrating that it makes you angry at first but then sits with you for a while.  I have been wavering back and forth between 4 and 4.5 for rating this movie.  I finally decided to go with 4.5 simply because this film has just sat with me for a while since watching it a few days ago.  Movies that stay ingrained in your mind deserve a little extra bump in rating.  If you go see this, go in with an open mind and just have fun watching this wacky story unfold.  Suspend all disbelief and enjoy the ride.  We'll probably never see another movie like this.  4.5 out of 5 JRs for definitely the strangest movie of 2016 so-far.


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