The Lobster review

Well, this is a weird one to be sure – blackly comic at times but also unremittingly bleak. A dowdy looking Farrell checks into a rather unusual hotel. He must a find a partner there within 45 days or he will be turned into the animal of his choice. As the days count down for him we see the other inhabitants of this odd establishment including a limping Whishaw and Barden with nosebleeds. An attractive maid (Laped) appears in Farrell's room every morning to provide ministrations to ensure he can get it up. Masturbation is strictly forbidden, the punishment being one's hands burnt in a toaster.

The second half of this markedly offbeat tale sees Farrell escape to the nearby forest where he is taken in by an equally demented pack of renegades led by humourless Seydoux. Here flirting and fornication is outlawed, which is a problem when he strikes up a secret romance with short-sighted Weisz.

If the scenario sounds appealing be warned, its mordantly dark comic sensibility  sticks in the back of the throat like a nettle – one laughs with perturbed fascination as the story unfolds. The quirky playing from the cast is all of a piece, everyone speaks in eccentrically clipped, deadpan tones. Director Lanthimos has conjured a most unique atmosphere here, marshalling a compulsive control over the proceedings that makes his endeavour original and compelling.

Is it entertaining though? Aye, there's the rub. How you take to this crazy effort is really a matter of personal taste. I could admire its coldly clinical confidence but it ultimately made me too uncomfortable, its depressing outcome leaving a sour taste in my mouth. Not one to warm to by any means but certainly formidable in its single minded strangeness.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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