Imagine the scene if you will. In a not-so-distant future, single people are taken to The Hotel where they must fall in love within 45 days else they risk being turned into an animal and sent off into the woods…This is the premise for The Lobster.
Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, Alps) writes and directs this piece of weirdness with Efthymis Filippou, his long-time writing partner, helping out with writing duties. If you think the premise sounds weird, wait until you see the film. There’s more too it then the above but I feel like saying more will give too much away.
Colin Farrell takes the lead with Olivia Coleman (Hot Fuzz, The Iron Lady) as the hotel manager, Angeliki Papoulia (Dogtooth, Alps) as a ‘heartless woman’, John C. Reilly (Wreck-It Ralph, Step Brothers) as another hotel guest, Lea Seydoux (Spectre, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as the leader of the singletons, Michael Smiley (The World’s End, Perfume) as another singleton, Rachel Weisz (Youth, The Mummy) as the eventual love interest and Ben Wishaw (Spectre, Cloud Atlas) as a further hotel guest.
When people speak to each other in this near future they do so in a curt manner and are very abrupt, there’s no beating around the bush, they say exactly what they think in as few words as possible. There are rules when you’re in the hotel, such as no masturbating, and rules if you manage to escape the hotel and end up with the Loners, such as no flirting or kissing.
If you do find love in The Hotel, you are provided a double-room for 20 days, if you survive that you are then provided with a yacht for a further 20 and if you survive that you are released back to the City. During these 40 days, and perhaps one of the funniest lines in the film, you’re told that if you’re not getting on and can’t resolve the issue(s) yourself, you’ll be ‘assigned a child’ which will help.
Farrell does what he can to find love but picks the wrong people and disaster follows him round like a lost puppy. Others go to varying lengths to find love, or pretend they have at least, to stop themselves being turned into an animal. Oh and finding love can be over the smallest of things such as; you both have a limp, you both have nice hair or you both wear glasses!
The performances are very stilted and awkward but this is exactly as it’s meant to be, everyone is socially awkward and it comes across, painfully. Other than Farrell everyone sort of comes and goes throughout the movie, perhaps Seydoux and/or Weisz have the next largest parts and all three are very good.
I realise I’ve told you very little about the film or the performances or much really. This is a really odd film to try and pin down. I guess the nearest recent film I can think of that is anywhere near like this would be Her with Joaquin Phoenix, but at the same time it’s nothing like it! If you like quirky, black comedy and social awkwardness then this is the film for you, otherwise, perhaps not.