At the Movies with Alan Gekko: The Lobster “2015”

At the Movies with Alan Gekko: The Lobster “2015”

MPAA Rating: R/Genre: Absurdist Dark Comedy Drama/Stars: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Léa Seydoux, Ariane Labed, Ben Whishaw, Angeliki Papoulia, John C. Reilly, Jessica Barden, Olivia Colman, Stavroula Karalidou, Ashley Jensen, Michael Smiley, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Ewen MacIntosh/Runtime: 118 minutes

I think for the purposes of this review I would like to start off by doing something that is rather unorthodox of me to do. That being to present you with a factoid that you most assuredly will find random, but I can also promise is important to the slice of cinema I am reviewing for you today. With that being planted in your mind, did you know dear reader that the distinct creature known as the lobster can not only live to be 100 years old, but also that it is capable of reproducing for each and every one of those 100 years? I mean with facts like that can you blame someone for aspiring to be transformed into one if they had the option to do so? No this isn’t about to turn into some weird science and bestiality crossover that your psyche would never fully get over let alone forgive me for. Rather, it is mainly the core concept at the heart of the slice of cinema I am reviewing for you today in the form of the wonderfully odd 2015 slice of cinema The Lobster. A slice of cinema from noted Greek scribe/helmer Yorgos Lanthimos that, might have been his 5th unique cinematic vision yet was the first he gave audiences which utilized the English language as its primary method of communication with the audience, takes its distinct auteur’s endless curiosity with the concept of synthetically built fellowship to the surrealist to say nothing of most out of left field limit I have seen so far in a film to date. More than that, here is a slice of cinema that starts out as a bleakly amusing revolt against the concept of society putting more than its fair share of two cents in to who we as people settle down with only to then proceed to build up, via a very sneaky rationale, into a full-blown romantic saga of immense and overwhelming affection and devotion to say nothing of astonishing novelty. Suffice it to say then that it might have its fair share of issues, to say nothing of a premise that I can promise will most assuredly not be everyone’s distinct blend of cinematic coffee. However, with the aid of compelling and engaging work on both sides of the camera, this is one movie that, should you be able to wrap your head around both the narrative as well as the world in which it is set, is sure to delight those already aware of this distinct voice’s previous body of work as well as be able to lure newcomers into his delightfully odd and quirky landscape in equal measure.

The plot is as follows: Taking us into a possible bleak future for our species, The Lobster gets its story underway by introducing us to our main guide through this rather topsy-turvy world who takes the shape and form of a guy by the name of David. A guy who, among other things that you might see pop up on his social media profiles, has just had his wife decide to leave him high and dry. Now normally in this situation you’d see the individual cry about it, have some ice cream, and then get back out there so maybe just maybe they can find someone new to “live happily ever after” with. Intriguingly though, that is not the case here. Instead, we see that our hero is sent swiftly to reside in a hotel in the city that is specifically for singles. It is here where we learn that the purpose of the hotel is not to operate as a free five-star vacation, but rather is the most extreme form of speed dating possible. This is because, according to the laws in this future world, everyone (regardless of their sexual orientation) must be someone else’s romantic partner. Therefore, the hotel is designed (albeit in the most clinical manner possible) to help those who are single find a new partner within 45 days. Should they be unable to do, the law decrees that the person in question be changed into an animal of their respective choosing. A change that is not designed to be viewable as punishing the individual, but rather in giving them yet another chance to locate the love that perhaps had been eluding them as a human being. Thus, as our hero begins to get acclimated to his new digs, it isn’t long before he learns a couple of things. The first is that his quest for newfound love will depend just as much if not more so on the other lodgers at his new residence to say nothing of their own distinct agendas rather than his heart’s inherent desires. The second is that in the woods by the hotel there are a group of anarchists with their own view of things. Namely that, unlike their city counterparts, these people are not ok with romantic partnering in any way save for when they want to fool the people in the city when they go to visit. Thus with the clock starting to tick down and his search for female companionship becoming more and more desperate, can our hero find the love that he needs to find to be happy as well as human or is he about to take a literal walk on the wild side permanently? That I shall leave for you to discover for yourself dear reader…

Now right off, it should be said that the work done behind the camera on this film is nothing short of dazzling. This starts with the work done from the director’s chair by Lanthimos and honestly it is incredible. Not just because of how pristinely and intricately his work is though it certainly is that dear reader. Rather, it’s because of how Lanthimos is able to take the downright ridiculous analogy at the heart of his film and have it become a fairly fulfilling to say nothing of surprisingly genuine explanation for the distinction between being on your own and being in a relationship with someone. Besides the top-notch work done by Lanthimos at the helm however, we see that this slice of cinema is also the blessed recipient of an incredible script from a frequent collaborator of Lanthimos by the name of Efthimis Filippou. Yes, the story might be one that is very much rooted in the universal worries that we all face in regards to love, finding someone, closeness, and isolation. Even so though, there is no denying that Filippou’s script is able to do a magnificent job at coming to life in a confrontational and more than slightly cantankerous manner that not only permits this film to stand out as its own thing, but also ensures this story is not able to even once operate as a parable that is remotely easy to comprehend. An element that some might see as a detriment, but others in synch with it are sure to find quite rewarding. Along with that, we see that via shooting the film by and large on the windy, unkempt, and gray-streaked coastline of Kerry in the country of Ireland that the immensely skilled Thimios Bakatakis is, from a director of photography perspective, able to showcase his incredible skill once more in conjuring up the key dimensional to say nothing of societal landscape, especially when it comes to the hotel at the heart of the film, that populates the world that his frequent collaborator Lanthimos is taking us into for this particular cinematic outing. Yet as wonderful of a job as Bakatakis’ compact, professional arranging, and quite garish range of colors he is working say about the limits put on the characters in this slice of cinema, I think it is reinforced remarkably well through the neat and task-rooted somberness consistently present in the top-tier production design efforts from Jacqueline Abrahams. Finally, it is also worth pointing out here that (much like with his other directorial efforts) Lanthimos decides here to once again trade his film possessing a novel musical accompaniment and instead put in a collection of already in existence songs of both a classic and pop variety. Yet rather than operate to the detriment of the overall quality of the film, we see that instead this soundtrack manages to do an impressive job of forcefully piercing a, more or less, softly murmuring ambient locale with fairly savage contact. Yet despite the presence of such icons as Beethoven, Shostakovich and Stravinsky all managing to pop up at some point or another during the film’s runtime, I think it can safely be said that perhaps Lanthimos’ most poignant musical choice here is Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue’s more than slightly pessimistic country-Gothic hybrid “Where the Wild Roses Grow” complete with its very mournful and melancholic appeal for a love that has no restraints to it. Suffice it to say then that the work done behind the camera is assuredly potent in its execution yet undeniably gripping in its impact on the viewer all rolled into one in the finest way possible.

Of course, the other big element that aids the film in working on the delightfully quirky yet profound level that it does would have to be the top-tier performances given by the undeniably talented cast of players in front of the camera. This starts with Colin Farrell in the lead role of David and he is terrific. Indeed I have long felt that Farrell has been one of the land of movie magic’s more underrated talents and with this slice of cinema he manages to continue to this trend of incredibly distinct, to say nothing of challenging from a performance standpoint in some way, roles that he has been taking on as of late. As a result, we see that he is able to give the audience a significantly rounded (and not because he took on 40 pounds for the part) and quite open turn here that manages to really hit the right chords in a way that is equal parts poignant, heartwarming, and even comedic to an extent as well. Yet even though in this slice of cinema the character played by Farrell here is nowhere even close to possessing any degree whatsoever of the assertiveness or charm that his characters usually possess, we see that Farrell is still able to do an incredible job at giving us an innocence that is nothing short of charming in its own way. Alongside the remarkable work done by Farrell however, this slice of cinema also treats us to an engaging co-starring performance from Rachel Weisz in the pivotal role of a short-sighted woman (and that is what she is credited in the actual film as) who becomes the most important woman on Earth to our main character. Indeed Weisz has long been someone who, much like Farrell, has shown remarkable skill at transitioning between both mainstream and more arthouse-style material with ease and here she brings her trademark lively and vibrant energy to say nothing of incredible intellect to this undeniably engaging and intriguing part. Alongside our dynamic duo however, the film also treats us to an effectively chilling turn from Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color and Daniel Craig’s last 2 outings as 007 from 2015 and 2021 respectively) as the leader of a rather distinct group of individuals in this world that I shan’t go into too much detail on here for fear of spoilers. Indeed Seydoux does a terrific job at making this character someone who yes is more than a tad bit on the icy and fairly ruthless side, but given that this is a world where people are turned into animals if they can’t find someone to be in a relationship with…can you really blame her? Finally, this review would definitely be amiss if I didn’t take some time to mention the equally as remarkable work done here by Olivia Colman in the role of the Hotel Manager. Indeed Colman has long been an actress I have admired since her time as the more than slightly hiss worthy antagonist on the hit Amazon show Fleabag and here she does a fantastic job at playing this character in a manner that is both clinical and brisk to say nothing of straight to the point in a way that just feels perfect for the character and the role she plays in the overall narrative. Suffice it to say that when you also factor in delightful efforts from such talents as Ben Whishaw, John C. Reilly, Ariane Labed, Jessica Barden, and Ashley Jensen among others it’s clear that this film might not be for everyone, but for those who choose to give it a chance I promise that the work done by this group definitely does help make it worthwhile.

All in all and at the end of the day I can’t lie to you dear reader: every now and then, usually when you’re very sleep-deprived and/or in the middle of a serious caffeine binge, you find yourself flipping through channels faster than the speed of light when something unusual occurs. That being that you find yourself inadvertently stumbling across a slice of cinema that, try as hard as you possibly can, you find all but impossible to properly apply a description to. Not because you don’t have the words mind you, but rather because what you are seeing unfurl before you is so bewildering that your mind can’t even come to terms with it let alone your ability to engage in basic speech patterns to talk about it. The reason I bring this up dear reader is because it is my belief that The Lobster is most assuredly a proud and true example of this distinct cinematic concept in action. Indeed here is a film that, even on the face of a more than slightly sluggish third act as well as severely head-scratching in its level of ambiguity conclusion, manages to be resolute, engaging, and extremely novel from beginning to end. More than that, this is a film that the phrase “you won’t know where it plans to take you next” is not a phrase, but rather a fairly on-point prediction for the film as a whole. Yes, iconic film auteur Yorgos Lanthimos has showcased for an audience a brilliant capacity of displaying his bleakly comedic take on a meaningless universe before. With this film though, he also manages to brilliantly bring into the mix a pointed and more than a degree of sardonic bite to this rather distinct tale that manages to both completely and utterly annihilate how we as people view the idea of romantic companionship as well as making quite clear the authentic desire that we as human beings have for that very same concept. Suffice it to say that it might have some issues, but with the aid of extremely well-done work behind the camera and compelling work in front of the camera by a more than capable cast of players The Lobster might not be for everyone, but for those of you either on its wavelength or who are willing to try and tune in then I can promise you that you will find quite a bit to enjoy here. Just make sure to not pair it up with a day at the zoo and I think you’ll be fine. Make of that what thou will dear reader. On a scale of 1-5 I give The Lobster “2015” a solid 4 out of 5.