The Lobster Screen 40 articles

The Lobster


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  • Less interested in people than his compatriots such as Athina Tsangari (an equally strange but far better filmmaker), Lanthimos depends entirely on overdrawn concepts and overwrought allegory. A horrible offender in this regard, The Lobster is all concept, no cinema; the type of one-note alternate reality metaphor that can carry short stories but rarely feature films.

  • There is some genuine inspiration to Lanthimos’s violent social satire, but overall this feels less like a coherent film than a laboriously executed conceptual art piece. The Lobsteris fatally bound in the carapace of its own surrealism.

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    Sight & Sound: Henry K. Miller
    October 02, 2015 | November 2015 Issue (pp. 81-82)

    Director Yorgos Lanthimos's most irritating device, as in his breakthroguh feature Dogtooth (2009), is the shop-worn 'shock unresolved ending'—the cut to black before a crucial decision is made. The point of Brechtian 'distancing' was to reveal to the audience the real social forces governing the action; it is senseless to apply it to a world governed by unreal forces whose origin and purpose are coyly withheld.

  • Lanthimos’s lachrymose lament for a world centered on couples and a subworld centered on solitaires betrays a cranky, dyspeptic sense of sexual and romantic dysphoria, not a lament for the state of society or of the human condition but an airing of his own petty complaints. The infinitesimally mild satire of the hotel’s blandly and dogmatically romantic pop culture is matched by the movie’s ultimate benediction of—surprise, surprise—the redemptive power of true love.

  • While the film remains in that [hotel] environment it continually comes up with novel and/or amusing satirical an absurdist ideas, but as soon as it moves into the woods and explores a romance between Colin Farrell’s character and Rachel Weisz’s, it loses too much of its charm and momentum.

  • It’s totally [Lanthimos'] film from top to bottom, but I think in a way he’s hit on his most interesting concept thematically, and then he doesn’t quite work it through all the way. Somehow the idea of exploring marriage as both this social construct that’s imposed on people but also kind of a prison, and all the ideas about what people look for in a partner and that kind of thing, it’s such a rich idea for a movie, and somehow he ends up not having enough ideas about it to keep the movie going.

  • The Lobster seems oddly ingratiating, keeping [Lanthimos'] dashed-off non-sequiturs but often anchoring them in tired bromides... Whether Lanthimos’ broadening of his style to such common-sense punch lines is the by-product of a deliberate shift from his abrasive aesthetic or just a transitional hiccup (into English, into modestly higher budgets), it still makes for a mild but still disconcerting bump in an otherwise unerringly smooth career.

  • The film’s first act is both curious and compelling as it introduces this strange world where true love is seen as having one distinguishing characteristic in common, whether that’s frequent nosebleeds or heartlessness. It gets into trouble, however, when Farrell escapes the hotel and joins the loners.

  • Despite its singular qualities and unnerving tenor, The Lobster fails to inspire critique beyond surface level targets. In a world this muted and carefully subjugated, there's very little room for life's little mysteries to take root. Even the film's gruelingly stretched final scene, which contains multiple potential resolutions, feels numbingly pre-ordained. Stylistic cold-hearted rigor ends up denouncing any possibility for transcendence.

  • I would gladly listen to Weisz read the audio book of a Muriel Spark novel, and maybe this film would have worked better as George Saunders–style literary fiction. Instead, The Lobster is a Jim Carrey movie stripped of comedy, with Colin Farrell in the Carrey role, an awkward everyman thrust into a sci-fi world resembling our own.

  • In this first half, The Lobster closely resembles Dogtooth and Lanthimos again exhibits his aptitude for creating insular, ruthlessly regimented microcosms through which to unleash his scathing satire. Unlike that of its predecessor, however, the attributes of this warped world are immediately familiar, even relatable. As a result, the director’s trademark deadpan humor is no longer simply droll, but uproarious – and also inescapably implicating

  • While its conceptual framework shows little sign of innovation, the size of the canvas most certainly does. Working outside Greece for the first time, and with the potential pitfalls of a larger budget and a star-studded cast, Lanthimos navigates the tricky task of upsizing with aplomb, even if the felicitous expansion can't quite mask the whiff of over-familiarity.

  • As the shocks and surreal-satirical conceits pile on, they accumulate meaning, leading to a semi-ambiguous finale that questions whether it’s even possible for two people to be in love on terms other than the ones their culture has laid out for them. There’s comedy that’s weird for its own sake, and then there’s this.

  • For the first 90 minutes, it’s all witheringly fantastic — Margaret Atwood taking relationships to Eugène Ionesco’s wood chipper. But the stuff with guerrillas is one despairing note. Once you get the joke, you’re hoping that Lanthimos’s sense of humor has another ruthless, tragic gear, and it doesn’t. Throughout, though, Farrell gives what’s bound to be another of his underrated, excellent performances.

  • I think one of the perhaps better ways to enter the film is to try and think of it as a film that goes against the grain that it chooses to belong to, namely the Von Trier-ian, Haneke-ian pessimist film. At the beginning you think that you’re going to be in that zone, but then it ends up being an optimistic film.

  • “The Lobster,” a surrealist lark from the Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos, opens with a cruel joke that nearly derails it before it gets going, but it recovers nicely with some fine turns from Rachel Weisz and a pudged-out and tender Colin Farrell.

  • David and the Short Sighted Woman's ostensible status as romantic outsiders is anything but, when you realize their heroism is dictated by a rulebook equally as Draconian as the one they're rebelling against. (I'm seen some critiques of the movie that don't seem to pick up on this.) The most I've enjoyed a Lanthimos film yet; made me wonder if the surface quirk of the previous two may have distracted me from what was going on underneath, but this feels richer.

  • I feel like I'm missing a trick - or just wanting Lanthimos to be more boring - but it beggars belief that no-one in all those big production companies ever looked through the script and said: 'Yorgo, this thing is a mess'. That said, almost everything in the first act - especially the dance, a great Kaurismaki-like set-piece, but also e.g. "Is a bisexual option available?", "A wolf and a penguin can never live together", the austere-deadpan tone in general - is magnificent.

  • Rather than present romance as a panacea, as so many other films do, The Lobster not only questions the value almost every society in the world places on procuring a mate but also rejects the notion that finding the One is the ultimate prize. Lanthimos forgoes easy sentiments about the transformative power of love; this may turn off some viewers, but there's a certain liberation and even some relief in knowing that societal pressure to settle down can be just as cruel as loneliness.

  • Both parts are so arresting and amusing that trying to work out real-world analogues for all of the nutty strictures and behavior is great fun, even if few are likely to come up with satisfying interpretations. If nothing else, The Lobster is endlessly creative, a quality in short supply these days.

  • This is a long, sick, semiotic joke, a bit like a Pythonesque romcom, told with slow zooms and overcast skies and not a sliver of sentiment... The actors race through their lines in a cheerless deadpan, which is apparently the trick to making me laugh like a jackass, because that's exactly what I did from beginning to end.

  • As with Dogtooth and Alps, this has an ingenious conceit, but one that Lanthimos doesn't manage to sustain for the entire feature. You get the idea, and then you get the idea over and over again. But it's often very funny, especially sadsack John C. Reilly and his lisp.

  • Longevity and lifelong fertility are among the reasons why a human may wish to become the eponymous creature, explains Colin Farrell’s protagonist at the outset of “The Lobster.” The tasty crustacean’s rich associations with the Surrealist movement appear to have slipped his mind, but not that of Greek writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos, whose supremely singular fifth feature takes his ongoing fascination with artificially constructed community to its dizziest, most Bunuelian extreme to date.

  • Lanthimos has built a rich, idea-filled world that’s not just weird for weirdness’ sake, but an evocative Buñuelian idiocracy where nuance has been eradicated (Farrell’s character isn’t allowed to claim he’s bisexual or have half-sizes of shoes) and intimacy is a chaotic institution... Charlie Kaufman or Spike Jonze couldn’t have written a more exquisite dark comedy in the age of Tinder; its tense mythmaking is both singularly surreal and ironically representative of How We Mate Today.

  • In Cannes the pervasive mood of buzz and business really begs for comedy, and Yorgos Lanthimos's English-language debut The Lobster, so far the best film in the competition, was a much-needed intervention of the absurd at the festival... Watching the film is like observing some alien game played in front of you, the pleasure derived both from puzzling out the rules and the surprise of what is or is not allowed, how it must be played.

  • A more ambitious and altogether successful bid for mainstream attention [than Louder Than Bombs], Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster finds the Greek director honing his specialty—the reductio-ad-absurdum social satire—to a fine, gleaming point.

  • In general, the bracingly dark absurdism of Lanthimos’ Greek films has survived intact after his transition to Anglophone filmmaking (a hurdle that has impeded so many other cinéastes): here the stilted dialogue was of a piece with the quasi-Brechtian distantiation that pervades the entire film, and its dry delivery provided for some of the most caustic humour of the festival.

  • The step-by-step reveal of a proscribed “world” will be familiar to viewers of Lanthimos’s previous films written with Filippou, recalling as it does the slow feeling out of the walls around the family compound in Dogtooth (2009), or the immersion into the rites of the grief cult in Alps (2011), though the scale here is more ambitious here than in previous works, with each new wrinkle in the narrative complicating the previously established dichotomy, and introducing new comic possibilities.

  • Lanthimos trusts the viewer to connect the dots, get the jokes, and understand the initially bewildering scenes for which no explanation is given... Dipping into the past to borrow from Greek tragedy, picturing the future as a surreal and horrific exaggeration of the present, The Lobster frightens and entertains, saddens and inspirits us—in this case with a final vision of self-sacrifice and devotion that ultimately transcends society’s attempts to commodify and regulate the mystery of love.

  • The film challenges viewers to question the assumptions made by these technologies, and to direct equal scrutiny at the self-righteousness of defiant singles. It shows the misery and hilarity of buying into one ideal of how to live or another. It seems to be advocating for some kind of middle ground — though, true to form, Lanthimos doesn’t offer us the comfort of depicting what that might look like.

  • In this half-mythical, half-surrealistic portrait of an innocent Everyman’s confrontation with a cold-blooded system, Lanthimos achieves a level of audience identification that his previous films had failed to bring about... Lanthimos’s mise en scène is vibrant, meticulous, unsentimental, and effective.

  • Lanthimos once again strikes an utterly singular tonal balance that lands somewhere between deadpan humor, hard-hitting violence, and disarming emotional poignancy.

  • Lanthimos's consistently hilarious, borderline anti-humor slowly gives way to a romantic streak of surprising warmth. In her most transfixing performance since The Deep Blue Sea, Rachel Weisz serves as both dispassionate narrator and eventual love interest, her quiet voiceover accompanied by a lachrymose string section that lends the film its most overt emotional cues.

  • There’s not the least whiff of bigger-budget compromise as the nightmare, Kafka by way of The Bachelor, plays out. Lanthimos has only seemed to double down on the type of lamely pathological interaction, almost calisthenic in its roteness, that’s become his stock-in-trade.

  • A droll piece of work lashed with grim humor. For every moment that makes you laugh, there may be another that leaves you with your mouth hanging open. But Lanthimos poses some crazily poetic questions in The Lobster, particularly about what it means to ally yourself with another person. How much of yourself do you give up? What must you hold on to at all costs? And can you ever be sure you’re not making the other person fit just so you won’t be alone?

  • Colin Farrell gives one of his funniest and (strangely enough, considering the humorlessness of the character) charming performances since "In Bruges," as David. David is baffled, obedient, defeated. Watch his face as he listens to other people's "testimonies" at group events. There's not a hint of self-awareness there. He has zero sense of the absurd. David is a mushy lukewarm pudding of a man. With his mustache and pot belly and nondescript glasses, Farrell is a completely believable everyman.

  • I had a great time at The Lobster and it also sort of made me want to kill myself. I am pretty sure this is the reaction the filmmakers were looking for... It's a satirical comedy—at times a very funny one, and other times the kind that makes you cover your eyes because what's happening onscreen is brutal, humiliating, or just unsettling in a way you can't quite place. Sometimes the movie is not funny at all and clearly isn't trying to be, and at several key moments it's deeply horrifying.

  • You don't require things in common to be in love. You don't need to be in love or out of love. You don't need to be with someone or without someone. You don't have to be married. It's OK to be alone. It's not OK to be alone, for some. Please consider this mordantly funny and heartbreaking allegory of the terrifying future.

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    Film Comment: Howard Hampton
    January 03, 2017 | January/February 2017 Issue (p. 51)

    It's said The Lobster is "dystopian," "dark," "absurdist"—critical/zoological shorthand for a semi-endangered species of art film exotica of the Terry Gilliam variety. Superficially, it belongs to the family of surrealism, but Yorgos Lanthimos's style of rigorous dissociation is better seen as social ritualism. He contrives a stilted, communal, poisoned herd physicality that registers like the telegraphic choreography of silent film if it had been reverse engineered by behaviorist B.F. Skinner.

  • Like its namesake, The Lobster is so cold and spiky that it’s pretty hard to love, and yet no final scene this year left me feeling as complex a mix of emotions as Lanthimos’s finale... The ambiguity here isn’t simply a matter of open-ended narrative gamesmanship, but the culmination of a movie that scuttles agilely and elusively between plausible pathology and stark, fable-like abstraction.

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