For Reel

The Lobster (2015)
February 19, 2016, 1:01 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
3 Stars
The LobsterThere might not be a better contemporary filmmaker at delivering a provocative one-sentence plot summary than celebrated Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos. And yet, up to this point the appeal of his films has not been limited to their enjoyable hooks–Alps, the director’s last underrated film, followed Dogtooth’s themes of hermetically sealed social constructs and amplified the sense of human delusion and performance. The Lobster is perhaps Lanthimos’ most ambitious project to date in that it seeks to take down the world of contemporary dating, and expectedly he has some thoughtful ways of dealing with the material. That the characters are whittled down to basic physical traits is not so much a flawed, limited way of characterization, but a comment on the arbitrariness of identifying potential matches (which has only been amplified in the online dating world). When Lanthimos moves the material from the hotel setting into the forest, however, he seems to all but abandon his intriguing conceit to discuss how resistance can lead to its own sort of oppression, with a group of renegade “loners” enforcing their singledom as resolutely as the hotel demands partnership. Lanthimos is no stranger to political themes, but here the delivery feels a bit too calculated and imposed, an unwanted tangent. Furthermore, if his films are often defined by their unexpected absurdity and surrealism, The Lobster also strains in this regard. When the loners have a silent dance party, the scene doesn’t have the shocking energy of the dance sequence in Dogtooth. It feels a little too cute and gimmicky, and indulgences in that direction will take Lanthimos from a great satirist to a simple conveyor of quirks.

2 Comments so far
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The forest-set second half was not as interesting; everything was framed in the most gorgeous way, the budding romance between Farrell and Weisz most of all, but it definitely lost its edge as it progressed.

Do you recommend Dogtooth as my go to next watch in Lanthimos’ oeuvre?

Comment by Movie Quibble

Absolutely! Dogtooth is a masterpiece. I also thought that Alps was terrific (maybe even better than Dogtooth), but I seem alone in that assessment. Regarding your criticism, I think the great thing about Lanthimos’ previous films is that they DON’T lose their edges as they progress–if anything, they get more severe.

Comment by Eric Fuerst

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