The 2015 Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize winner, The Lobster, is the kind of film for which the term pretentious was surely invented. It contains all the clichés and trappings that are always parodied whenever someone takes a swipe at art house films. Frankly, it’s the kind of thing that gives any film with a loftier goal than simply entertaining a bad name. If this is the alternative to the seemingly never-ending onslaught of sequels and comic adaptations that currently litter our multiplex screens then it’s somewhat despairing. This is a film that asks us to follow its twisty road and then cops out by opting not to give the audience any sense of closure at all (more on that later). I think priggish might be an apt word to describe The Lobster since it seems to think that it’s so vastly superior to mainstream cinema but really isn’t. If you want to talk simply in terms of cinematic superiority, I personally found Batman V Superman to be more to my liking than this one and that’s saying something.
The Lobster has a ridiculous premise right from the get go but suspension of disbelief is possible in the right director’s hands. Unfortunately, this is neither the director nor the vehicle to get that suspension of disbelief across, which is crucial for a film like this one to succeed.
Colin Farrell & Rachel Weisz in The Lobster
Here we have a film about a futuristic society wherein single people are turned into the animal of their choice if they don’t find love within forty-five days. In order for that to work one must feel some human connection to the characters, to feel their aching and longing to give and receive true love. So much attention is paid to keeping the audience in a state of perpetual befuddlement that the film is simply unable to engage on even the most primitive human level. And that’s where it failed for me.
Colin Farrell has the lead role here as a man who’s recently been left by his wife. He’s sent to a strange hotel where all single people are banished until they find love or become animals. Farrell’s character wants to become a lobster if he doesn’t find love. Eventually he leaves the safety net of the hotel and joins a group of rebels living in the woods who are, shall I say, anti relationship. Of course, that’s where he finds true love with a character listed in the credits as simply the ‘Short Sighted Woman’ (Rachel Weisz) and things take a turn for the worse.
The actors do the best they can with the material. Farrell physically transformed himself by gaining forty pounds for the role. Still, all the great actors in the world can only do so much with a film filled with such pretention. I’m sure many will disagree but I found The Lobster to be a real bottom feeder.
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