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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.



Alps (2011)
April 9, 2012, 9:09 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos faced an uphill battle in attempting to follow-up his disturbing, unforgettably bizarre Dogtooth – for which he earned an Oscar nomination – with a work that shared its pitch-black humor and leading actress. Alps, however, is far from repetitive. Though admittedly not as viscerally startling, it is the work of a more mature, thoughtful artist, whose ability to manufacture dread and suspense remains in tact. As with Dogtooth, the premise is ripe with potential – a small society of men and women help families through the mourning process by posing as their deceased loved ones. The forging of identities is shared with its predecessor, but Lanthimos suggests a heightened fascination in this concept with the character played by Dogtooth‘s Aggeliki Papoulia, who gradually becomes addicted to the affection that is thrust upon her while she is posing as the deceased. When, after losing her job as the daughter to two loving parents, she attempts to force her way back into a family’s life, the moment transcends its surface oddities and finds a heartbreaking truth about loneliness. Papoulia’s role is more emotionally demanding than her previous collaboration with the director, and she meets his needs effortlessly. This pairing has the potential to develop into one of the great actor/director collaborations in contemporary world cinema – she has both the selfless confidence to meet his physical demands, and the sensitivity as a performer to delve into his greater emotional interests.