(2015, Yorgos Lanthimos)
[5 out of 5 stars]
Yorgos Lanthimos, a Greek director known for his dark, deadpan style of satire, makes his English-language debut with THE LOBSTER.
You enter a strange world in the first scene. A distressed woman parks her car on the side of the road, takes out a shotgun and shoots a cow dead. She gets back in the car and it cuts to the title. There is no explanation. Its absurdity instigates some laughs in the theatre. Nervous, unsure laughter.
Here's the premise: a man checks himself in a center where single people have 45 days to find a partner. If they fail, they get turned into the animal of their choice. It's a premise that is funny at first glance but when you give it some time to digest and it becomes disturbing. It also goes the other way.
There is always an interplay between the unsettling and amusing. A still shot of a woman dying on a courtyard as onlookers casually stand by is followed by the line 'there's blood and biscuits everywhere'. It was established that the woman liked biscuits and was her defining characteristic.
Lanthimos' worlds function by strict rules and procedures. Rituals and formalities are performed with devotion that one would imagine of cults, extremists groups, and religious organisations. The do or die approach and the countdown device forces characters to commit violence and other atrocious acts upon themselves and others in order to find a suitable partner. Does this sound familiar?
I found it hilarious that after seeing the film, I checked my Twitter feed and found it inundated with #TheBachelorette hashtag. We are a society obsessed with coupledom and fear singleness. THE LOBSTER pokes fun of this idea to hilarious and troubling effect.