Posts Tagged ‘Yorgos Lanthimos’

The cryptic art-house movie ‘The Lobster’ is a strange meditation on couplehood and society

June 21, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
June 21, 2016

Author’s note: Parents, please be aware that this post obliquely refers to sex. MEM

Some movies are intended to entertain their audience. Some are intended to instruct or inspire. Others are intended to explore a question of some sort.

The Lobster, the latest feature movie from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, falls squarely into the latter category. Or to be precise, this art-house film, which Lanthimos co-wrote with fellow Athens native Efthymis Filippou, asks a set of questions.

The film is set in a near-future society, perhaps located in part of what is now Britain, where adults who lose their romantic partners must either become part of a new pair or be transformed into an animal of their choosing. The emotionally detached protagonist of the piece is David (Colin Farrell), a mild-mannered architect whom we first encounter shortly after he has been dumped by his wife and moments before he is picked up by employees of a hotel where singletons must either find new mates or undergo species-reassignment surgery.

The resort and its grounds are physically magnificent, but the place is a joyless, oppressive socialist nightmare. “Guests,” who have 45 days to attempt to find a new mate, are issued identical sets of clothing. (There are no half-sizes, a maid played by Ariane Labed coolly informs David when he arrives.) In the afternoons, the supposed vacationers are taken to the woods to hunt loners, renegade former guests who have gone opted for an existence as feral campers rather than live out their days as animals.

During down time, resort staff subject the guests to short morality plays (“Man dines alone,” one is titled; it depicts a man choking to death over his meal) and nightly dances where they are serenaded by the hotel manager (Olivia Colman), her partner (Garry Mountaine) and a competent but un-enthusiastic band. (During one of these scenes, I recall leaning over and sarcastically whispering “White people dance!” to my companion.)

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