The Lobster – LFF Review

The Lobster

In a world much like our own being single has become tantamount to a crime. Anyone finding themselves unattached through divorce, death, or simply unsuccessful dating must go to The Hotel. There they have 45 days to find a partner, essentially someone who shares one distinct trait with them, or be transformed into an animal of their choice. The Hotel is run by Olivia Colman who gives lectures on why being in a couple is a good things and how it might prevent you from dying or being raped. The message here is clear; if you are single you might as well not be human.

Out in the forests hides an outcast group who cannot live in polite society anymore. This group is known as the Loners and are led by a militant Léa Seydoux. In this group being in a couple is the ultimate betrayal and even kissing or flirting are punished violently. Independence is the only valuable attribute and each Loner is even expected to dig their own grave in case they die. Running away to join the Loners is your only alternative if your time runs out at the Hotel and you want to keep your human face.

Our guide through this peculiar world is David (Colin Farrell) who reluctantly checks into The Hotel at the start of the film with his dog-shaped brother in tow. He has 45 days to find himself someone with a matching distinguishing feature or he will find himself transformed into a lobster; the logical form to choose for his post-human years. Inside the hotel he is joined by a limping man (Ben Whishaw), a woman who has nosebleeds (Jessica Barden), a man with a lisp (John C. Reilly), a woman who loves biscuits (Ashley Jensen), and a heartless woman (Angeliki Papoulia). All of them, barring perhaps the heartless woman, are desperate to find whatever passes for love in this world. Meanwhile out in the woods the likes of Michael Smiley and Rachel Weisz do their best to be friendly but not flirty and evade capture from The Hotel’s residents. The cast is crammed with a fine selection of British actors and it is a great endorsement that director Yorgos Lanthimos chose to make this film in the UK rather than the US.

The Lobster 2

Yorgos Lanthimos has brought his distinctly dry humour to his first English-language feature. As you can presumably tell from what I have described the film forms a scathing satire on the modern world of dating and selecting a partner out of desperation based on the most trivial of compatibility criteria. Every line spoken in the film in done so in a completely deadpan manner making the more absurd dialogue seem sane and turning mundane conversation surreal. I got the distinct feeling that Lanthimos has looked at the world, found it ridiculous, and wants to show us the insanity he sees.

The Lobster is an incredibly funny and smart film. It takes the norms of our societal rituals and expectations and blows them up to be seen for the madness that they really are. The film has a lot of clever ideas and humorous moments and is a pleasure to watch but struggles when trying to thread a plot through all the metaphor. This being a film about love it can’t resist having a love story rear its ugly head. The romance in question is sweet but the insistence on deadpan delivery dampens any emotions. That said the muted nature of the romance adds to the general mood and message of the film so is far from out of place.

The Lobster will provide you plenty of chuckles and a few wry knowing smiles and is a unique confection from one of our most creative modern filmmakers. Once you’re in sync with the film’s unique rhythm you’ll be lost in its world.

Lobster screens at the festival again on the 15th October but sadly has sold out. Luckily it is released on the 16th anyway so not to worry.

BFI London Film Festival 2015 Line-up

BFI LFF 2015

Yesterday saw the reveal of not just the sexy new logo for the BFI London Film Festival 2015 but the full line-up of films. Which is more important I will leave up to you. The festival takes place in various London venues from 7th to 18th October 2015 with booking for members opening on 10th September and for the general public from the 17th. The full list of films can be found at the BFI website while below I have chosen one film from each strand of the festival. The films below constitute my gut reaction as to which films are the most exciting.

LOVE

In the Room
In the Room
Spread across many decades but set within one hotel room this film promises to explore love and lust through numerous encounters in just the one room. What better way to explore love than by examining what happens behind closed doors between couples?

Debate

My Scientology Movie
My Scientology Movie
Louis Theroux turns his sceptical gaze towards the church of Scientology in a film that has caused sufficient debate to cause the church to film their own opposing documentary about Theroux. Come for the film and stay for the likely protesting Scientologists.

Dare

The Lobster
The Lobster
Yorgos Lanthimos has impressed with his previous efforts Dogtooth and Alps so arrives at his third feature with great expectations. Set in a world in which singletons are given just less than two months to find love this romantic thriller caused a big stir at Cannes and is high on my watch list.

Laugh

Live from New York!
Live from New York!
Standing out for me in the comic strand of the festival is this documentary on the history of Saturday Night Live. As a fan of the show I relish the opportunity to get behind the scenes and see how the show that launched a thousand careers is made.

Thrill

The Ones Below
The Ones Below
The best thrillers can turn the mundane into the exhilarating and what is more mundane but intriguing than new neighbours moving in downstairs? So it is for a wealthy couple who invite their new neighbours around for dinner only to experience a tragic accident.

Cult

Elstree 1976
Elstree 1976
With Star Wars fever reaching a new peak there is no better time to enjoy a documentary featuring ten anonymous individuals who appeared as extras in those early George Lucas films. More a character study than behind the scenes exposé this looks to be a sweet documentary.

Sonic

Ruined Heart
Ruined Heart: Another Love Story Between a Criminal and a Whore
I can’t resist a lengthy title and a confusing synopsis so how can I not be drawn towards a film described as a “kaleidoscope of sex, violence and crime” with a “banging soundtrack at its core”. The idea of someone at the BFI using the term “banging” is charming enough on its own.

Journey

Youth
Youth
I’ve heard very mixed reactions towards this film coming out of other film festivals but any film giving older actors a chance to be centre stage again is OK in my book. With Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel in the lead roles Youth threatens to be a lot of fun.

Family

When Marnie Was There
When Marnie Was There
As part of their family friendly selection of films the BFI have included what may well be the final film from Studio Ghibli. How can you not watch it? This is history in the making.

Experimenta

The Stuff of Film
The Stuff of Film
I have had a mixed response to this challenging strand of the festival in the past. My previous coverage of the artistic shorts has previously resulted in angry emails and notes of thanks from artists; both from the same blog post. This collection of shorts which examine how we see the moving image promise to be as frustrating and fabulous as usual.