I first heard of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster when it played at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The reception was unanimous: The Lobster was weird, funny and wonderful. With an impeccable cast and unique premise, I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to see it once it was released stateside. After one year of waiting, I can finally confirm that The Lobster is not good, not funny, just weird.
The film takes place in a fictional city where single people have 45 days to find a partner. If they fail, they are turned into animals. The story follows David (Colin Farrell) as he begins his search for a new partner after his wife leaves him for another.
I can confidently say that The Lobster is one of the most original films one can watch. Every aspect of the film, from the performances to its dialogue, commits to the film’s oddities. Its unapologetic satire and intentionally offbeat storytelling is commendable.
However, the weirdness will put off most viewers. Although the detached viewing experience adds to the film’s satirical interpretations on relationships and love, it makes The Lobster even less enjoyable to watch. Because audiences can’t connect with the characters, they won’t care about anything that happens in the film. This doesn’t help The Lobster’s pacing issues. The film feels unbearably long even though it is just under two hours. Instead of making audiences laugh, each character’s awkwardness makes them cringe in secondhand embarrassment. Two hours of that is not pleasant.
This is one of those films that depends on its story. If someone doesn’t like the story, they won’t like the film. Nothing will save it. Which is why the story can never be the film’s weakness. By The Lobster’s third act, its story starts to fall apart and hurts the overall film. Certain elements that were previously introduced are forgotten. The film presents more questions than answers and leaves thing deliberately ambiguous, but at a certain point, that lack of clarity confuses audiences and causes plot holes.
The Lobster feels like a film someone made in an attempt to be clever and use satire to examine one aspect of the current culture. It backfires completely, by making audiences not want to engage with it. The Lobster may be highly original, but when a film is not entertaining, it’s not worth watching. Simple as that.
The Lobster was released in theaters May 13, 2016.