This is a re-post of my review from the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Yorgos Lanthimos’s first English-language film, “The Lobster,” is a fascinating, thought-provoking, and original story that involves a world where the punishment for not being in a relationship is that you’re forced to be turned into an animal. An animal of your choice, but an animal nonetheless. “The Lobster” is a thinking film and it’s as bizarre as it is unique and memorable.

David (Colin Farrell) is recently single, he and his wife of 12 years having left each other. So he checks himself into a facility that provides him 45 days to find a suitable partner, otherwise he’ll become a “loner” and turned in the animal of his choice. In David’s case, he’d like to be turned into a lobster. The facility functions like a hotel, but trains (brainwashes, really) its guests about why coupledom is the way to go. And should two people find themselves suitable enough to be in a relationship but start fighting or having problems, they will be assigned a child, because, apparently, it helps the relationship.

Approaching the end of his stay and not having yet found anyone to be with, David gets desperate and engineers a way to be with someone by lying, which eventually leads him away from the facility and into the loners hiding in the forest behind the facility, the leader (Léa Seydoux) coming up with plans against the owners of the hotel (Olivia Colman, Garry Mountaine). This is where he meets another loner (Rachel Weisz). The only trouble is is that the loner leader has strict rules against falling in love with other loners. It’s a lose-lose situation, it seems.

For the first two-thirds of the film, Greek directer and co-writer Yorgos Lanthimos lures the audience so convincingly into the world he’s created. And it’s truly a intriguing, if a bit warped, world. Outside the facility, the world continues on as though undisturbed or altered. People still go shopping, still have cars, still go about their daily activities, but clearly something’s amiss. It’s the crux of the story as well as its ultimate downfall.

The final third of “The Lobster” is where the film begins to falter. The first hour and 15 minutes or so feels like an entirely different movie, removed from its final act and coming off like its own film, separate from its initial story. It would have been more enticing if Lanthimos had explored more of the world he presented in the first two-thirds of the film.

Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, and the supporting cast, which includes John C. Reilly, round out a fantastic international cast. Everyone speaks so blandly and in monotone that the fact that the society in which they live is restrained and not quite right is obvious in the way everyone carries themselves.

“The Lobster” is a film that may confuse as much as it may delight. The narrative is cleverly executed and Lanthimos does a great job developing this world, to a point anyway. The performances are strong and the story is strong, but the film starts to unravel a bit in the finale, where it’s unclear how it fits in the overall scheme of things. The world Lanthimos has created is wonderful and could have been explored a bit more before the final act takes the audience elsewhere, but the film’s quirkiness, inventiveness, and sense of dark humor is worth a watch.

60%
60%
Good

"The Lobster" is a film that may confuse as much as it may delight. The narrative is cleverly executed and Lanthimos does a great job developing this world, to a point anyway. The performances and story are strong, but the film starts to unravel a bit in the finale.

3star

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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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