At this point it’s safe to expect the strange from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth) and yet The Lobster still comes off as a completely, uniquely, twisted experience. It’s another of his darkly absurdist explorations of societal structures, with the filmmaker striking out against the tyranny of couple-obsessed culture and then doubling back to twist single life into a comedic nightmare. Yep, there’s something to make everyone feel like an idiot.
Having recently left his wife, Colin Farrell is shipped off to a bizarre hotel where singles are shunned until they can find a new mate. If they don’t pair off within an allotted 45 day time limit, then they are transformed into an animal (Farrell wants to be a lobster, hence the title). After making friends with a lispingly hysterical John C. Reilly and a limping Ben Whishaw, Farrell makes a fleeting attempt at romance before heading off to live with the hiding singles. These folks live in the woods in secret and are able to masturbate freely, but any attempt at love between them is instantly punished. That makes things tricky when Farrell and Rachel Weisz discover they are both shortsighted and are therefore in love with each other.
Lanthimos’ movie delights in deeply awkward humor. His world features characters seemingly incapable of communicating in anything beyond stammering mumbles and unable to connect over anything beyond seemingly meaningless personality traits. It’s an initially amusing pisstake on the concept of human connection, played with cringe-tastic gusto by a cast of international stars and Britcom veterans. The film is at it’s best in the nightmarish hotel skewering the very idea of romance. When it gets into the second half, The Lobster seems to start again as a sequel, which is somewhat awkward at first before finding new means of discomforting satire and ultimately ending in an oddly moving place. A fascinatingly bleak comedy destined to be an ideal date movie for weirdos everywhere.
This review was originally published as part of our TIFF 2015 coverage.