Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
Cast: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Coleman, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw John C. Reilly, Ashley Jensen, Jessica Barden, Angeliki Papoulia, Ariane Labed, Roland Ferrandi, Ewen MacIntosh, Roland Ferrandi, Garry Mountaine, EmmaEdel O’Shea, Garry Mountaine.
There are films that engross you, that pull you in from the very start, the intrigue of the dynamic opening, that no matter how the film progresses from that point, no matter the connection made between film-goer and intended meaning by the writer and director, you are already living and breathing in the black celluloid dystopia on offer, such is the surreal quality of life and of The Lobster.
If the stunning 1976 film Logan’s Run showed how a dystopian society could be achieved with everybody being willingly murdered by the time of their 30th birthday, a kind of state monopoly on pension avoidance, then The Lobster equally fits the bill in the dystopian stakes on showing that by being single is also a waste of natural resources, that in this near future world, there is no time for the loner or the happily single, a premise that perhaps is more in keeping with society’s distrust of those whose needs don’t conform with expectation rather than making sure that people celebrate their 30th birthday with a quick drug induced death.
To be single is a sin, to be alone a crime, one that is punished by staying at a hotel where the order is to find a mate, to find that someone you can live with and be happy in the eyes of society or face the prospect of living life as an animal for the rest of your natural life.
As black comedies go, The Lobster holds onto a basic premise but warps it completely out of control and with witty and dry observations of how single people are always targeted by their friends to find someone suitable, to set them up on a date and to even be ready to lie to their prospective partner just to make sure they are somewhat compatible. What the film also achieves from its ironic delivery and with deadpan assurance by the tremendous Rachel Weisz is just how far single people can be driven to resent the supposed happiness afforded to those in a couple can be, the uncomfortable familiarity with the secret signals between two people that be misconstrued as arrogance, that can be seen as a condescension to the outside world.
In Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ashley Jenson, Olivia Coleman and the excellent Ben Whishaw, the film stands up to huge scrutiny and can even be seen to echo the satire placed upon the world by the likes of Jonathan Swift and Ovid. The use of the pleasant surroundings, the urge to be seen as a member of a particular group in which life is not always held to be the single route to happiness, and the use of black surreal humour is one that really reinforces the film’s enjoyment.
The Lobster is modest but outrageously superior in its make-up, full of humility but confident enough to make it instantly likeable, a film which really knows what it is setting out to do and one that will challenge the film goers pre-conceived ideas about love and relationships. A tonic for the masses!
Ian D. Hall