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“The Lobster” is one of the most unique films this year

the lobster-movie colin farrell, john-c reilly, ben-whishaw
For anyone who has seen Dogtooth, it’s no secret that filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos has one hell of a unique outlook on the world. He’s also a brilliantly talented director and writer, so anything he puts out into the world is well worth taking notice of. This week, after a fruitful festival run last year, his English language debut The Lobster hits theaters, and I can vouch for it being one of the best things to come out so far in 2016. It’s a special work, much like Dogtooth, and to a lesser extent Alps, one well suited to our current time and highly worthy of the praise that it’s about to receive.

The movie is a black comedy at its core. Basically, in the very near future, single people are essentially breaking the law. When a relationship ends, they are taken to a hotel of sorts, where they are obligated to find a new romantic partner in forty-five days or get turned into the animal of their choice. Protagonist David (Colin Farrell) is there after a divorce, along with his now dog brother, and it’s not going well. He’s made friends like Lisping Man (John C. Reilly) and Limping Man (Ben Whishaw), but no one has made him want to fall in love. He tries it with Heartless Woman (Angeliki Papoulia), but that goes so poorly he’s driven into the woods, where outcasts from the city live and reject the concept of relationships/love. Ironically, it is there that he finds love, with Short Sighted Woman (Rachel Weisz). They must then avoid the leader of the loners (Léa Seydoux) from finding out, or disaster could be at hand. The film also stars Olivia Colman as the director of the hotel, among other supporting cast members like Jessica Barden, Ashley Jensen, Ariane Labed, and more. Lanthimos directs and co-writes with Efthymis Filippou, who also assisted on both Alps and Dogtooth.

Almost everything works here, but I especially love how Lanthimos builds the world here. The Lobster takes the promise he showed in Dogtooth and Alps, but especially the former, and expands on it. That Oscar nominated foreign film might be slightly stronger overall, but this is excellent as well. Farrell, Seydoux, and especially Weisz are excellent, the writing is crisp, the direction is fluid, and everything fits perfectly in this universe. If there’s a small weakness preventing this from being a masterpiece, it’s that the ending is one that you can kind of see coming. It’s not a huge deal at all, but it’s somewhat less clever and creative than what’s come before. Still, this is a special flick, to say the least.

Awards wise, I hope that voters consider The Lobster, but it might be a bit too unusual. That being said, you can’t count it out in the least. Campaigns in Best Picture, Best Director (for Lanthimos), Best Actor (for Farrell), Best Supporting Actor (for Reilly), Best Supporting Actress (for Seydoux and/or Weisz), Best Original Screenplay (for Filippou and Lanthimos), Best Production Design, and Best Cinematography will likely be launched by A24 this year. It could easily turn out to be Original Screenplay or bust for this one, but there’s definitely a narrative where it does better than that. A shut out is obviously in the cards as well, but the movie is so good that I’m optimistic Academy members won’t immediately shut it out. They went for Dogtooth at the Oscars, nomination wise, and that’s perhaps an even harder sell, so anything is possible.

The Lobster is an odd duck, no doubt about it. That being said, I do think that come Friday audiences will respond to it when it opens in limited release. It could be a niche audience, but A24 is capable of making this one break out, to some degree at least. Fans of Farrell will love this role for him. Fans of Lanthimos’ previous films will be thrilled with this one. In general, fans of black comedies should appreciate this in a big way. It’s a beast unlike anything else, but it’s so terrific that anyone and everyone should give it the time of day. Don’t sleep on this one, as it’s one of the best things to come out so far in 2016…

Be sure to check out The Lobster, in theaters this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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