Friday, May 11, 2018

2018 Cannes Marathon: The Lobster

(Winner of the Palm Dog Jury Prize to Bob the Dog, Queer Palm Special Mention, and the Jury Prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival)

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and written by Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou, The Lobster is the story of a man who arrives at a compound where he’s given forty-five days to find a new partner or else he turns into an animal. It’s a film that explores isolation and the need to find someone in a world that is almost dystopian where human beings are desperate to connect or else they get themselves into serious trouble. Starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw, Lea Seydoux, Jessica Barden, Olivia Colman, Ashley Jensen, Ariane Labed, Angeliki Papoulia, and Michael Smiley. The Lobster is a whimsical and rapturous film from Yorgos Lanthimos.

Set in a futuristic dystopian world where a person has to have a partner as loneliness is forbidden, the film revolves around a man whose wife has left him for another man where he goes to a compound to find a new partner in 45 days or else he’s turned into an animal where he gets another chance to find a companion as that animal. It’s a film that plays into this absurdist dystopian world about the need to not be lonely as everyone has to be with someone and with a family in order for society to thrive or else they become animals or outcasts at worst. The film’s screenplay by Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou is largely told from the perspective of an outsider who narrates the film as her identity isn’t revealed until the film’s second half as she tells the story of David (Colin Farrell) who would enter this idyllic compound that is like a resort of sorts for lonely people to get their chance to find a partner. In this hotel, he would befriend a man with a lisp named Robert (John C. Reilly) and a man with a limp named John (Ben Whishaw) who are also trying to seek partners in this offbeat hotel resort.

Among their activities in order to prolong their time search in finding a partner include hunting loners who refuse to play by society’s rules and if they manage to hunt these loners, they would be given additional days to find a partner. When one finds a partner, they’re moved into a different part of the hotel where they would get to know each other and would be given a child in case there’s an argument or something. Then they’re moved to a yacht to continue the courtship until they’re moved to the city to spend the rest of their lives. Yet, there is something off as masturbation is forbidden as sexual stimulation from a staff member is mandatory though clothes are kept on. For David, it’s something he has to accept as much of the action takes place in the first half until he tries to partner up with a cold-hearted woman (Angeliki Papoulia) that goes horribly wrong. The film’s second half is set in the forest where David becomes a loner and meets up with a loner faction that forbids romance from happening yet David ends up falling for a short-sighted woman (Rachel Weisz). Their relationship is kept secret yet it becomes harder when their leader (Lea Seydoux) becomes suspicious as David would realize that both the loner faction and those wanting to people to be partnered up have their flaws in their methods.

Lanthimos’ direction is intoxicating for not just capturing this element of dystopia as it is set in a modern world but also creating something that does feel offbeat and strange. Shot largely in Ireland with the city shot on location in Dublin, the film does play into this clash of ideals in two worlds where the city is where society thrives on couples being together to maintain this idyllic society. Lanthimos would use wide shots to capture the look of the city where it does look futuristic in some areas yet maintains something that does feel like it’s near the present while he would also shoot in these locations such as the fields, mountains, and lakes. The hotel/compound where David would stay nearby these natural surroundings do give the film this look that is like a paradise of sorts but there’s also something off in Lanthimos’ direction from the fact that those without partners live in modest though posh-like rooms while the couples would live in a more spacious room that has more perks.

Lanthimos’ approach to close-ups and medium shots play into how characters interact with one another in which there’s a sequence where John tries to win over the nosebleed woman (Jessica Barden) by claiming he also gets frequent nosebleeds. It’s among some of the film’s comical events along with the scene of the loners dancing to music on their headphones which goes to show both the world of the couples and the world of the loners are. Still, there is that element of how repressed this world can be in a scene where David, short-sighted woman, the loner leader, and an associate walk to the city as they pretend to be couples as everyone has to have papers to prove they’re a couple or else they get sent to the compound. Lanthimos showcase a world where both sides is cruel as David’s infatuation with the short-sighted women is out of pure love but that’s not what the loners want nor does the people at the hotel want as they care about survival of the fittest rather than living. Overall, Lanthimos crafts a riveting yet abstract film about an absurd dystopian world where humans must find a mate or else become an animal.

Cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of low-key lighting and slightly-yellow color for some of the interiors set at night to a somewhat greyish look for the daytime exterior scenes in the forest and at the city. Editor Yorgos Mavropsaridis does excellent work with the editing as it is straightforward in terms of its lack of style with some slow-motion sequences such as a few of the hunting scenes. Production designer Jacqueline Abrahams does amazing work with the look of the hotel in its rooms and various outside activities including its spa as well as the home of the loner leader’s parents. Costume designer Sarah Blenkinsop does fantastic work with the costumes from the clothes the people at the compound have to wear to the raincoats that the loners wear at the forests.

Hair designer Eileen Buggy and makeup designer Sharon Doyle do terrific work with the look of the characters as much of it is straightforward to play into the look of conformity to a more ragged look for the loners when they’re in the forest. Visual effects supervisors Pierre Buffin and Olivier Cauwet do wonderful work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects as it relates to some of the animals that lurk around the forest and lakes. Sound designer/music composer Johnnie Burn does incredible work with the sound work in capturing the atmosphere of the locations and what goes on inside the hotels and cities while much of the music he creates is largely a low-key ambient score for a few scenes in the forest while music supervisor Amy Ashworth provides a music soundtrack that is a mixture of classical and contemporary music with contributions from Ludwig Van Beethoven, Igor Stravinsky, Richard Strauss, Benjamin Britten, Danai, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds with Kylie Minogue.

The casting by Jina Jay is tremendous as it features some notable small roles from Roger Ashton-Griffiths as an eye doctor for the short-sighted woman, Anthony Dougall as the 70-year old waiter at the hotel, Roland Ferrandi and Imelda Nagle Ryan as the loner leader’s parents, EmmaEdel O’Shea as the nosebleed woman’s best friend, Michael Smiley as the loner leader’s associate, Ashley Jensen as a woman who often carry biscuits at the compound, Ewen MacIntosh as a hotel guard, and Olivia Colman in a terrific performance as the hotel manager who spouts propaganda ideas of partnership yet forbids any idea of true happiness. Jessica Barden is fantastic as a young woman who has frequent nosebleeds as she tries to find a partner who would be her equal as well as handle her nosebleeds. Angeliki Papoulia is excellent as the heartless woman as someone who is a real cold-hearted bitch that doesn’t care if anyone gets hurt as well as being an able hunter who likes to hunt loners so she can extend her search for her equal.

Ariane Labed is brilliant as the hotel maid whose job is to dry-hump David as well as be someone to cater to everyone at the hotel yet also carries a secret about her role as it’s a great mixture of humor and restraint. Lea Seydoux is amazing as the loner leader as a woman who leads a faction of loners who believes that love only leads to trouble and that loneliness is the only way people can live despite her attachments to her parents whom she visits occasionally. John C. Reilly and Ben Whishaw are great in their respective roles as Robert and John with the former suffering from a lisp as he has trouble connecting with the women and the latter having a limp as he would find a way to get the woman with the nosebleeds. Rachel Weisz is incredible as the short-sighted woman who is part of the loner faction as she falls for David as she realizes that everything that the loners stand for is false as she and David try to keep their relationship a secret. Finally, there’s Colin Farrell in a sensational performance as David as a man whose wife has left him as he joins the hotel compound to find a new partner as he’s accompanied by his dog Bob as he copes with the need to find a partner only for things to go wrong as it’s an offbeat performance from Farrell who provides a sense of restraint but also an sweet awkwardness to his performance.

The Lobster is a phenomenal film from Yorgos Lanthimos. Featuring a great ensemble cast, an offbeat premise, gorgeous visuals, and a hypnotic soundtrack. It’s a film that plays into the absurdity of people needing to connect without the chance to find themselves or someone that they can spend their life with as it is filled with humor and drama as it’s told in a very abstract and hilarious style. In the end, The Lobster is a tremendous film from Yorgos Lanthimos.

Yorgos Lanthimos Films: (My Best Friend (2001 film)) – (Kinetta) – Dogtooth - (Alps (2011 film)) – (The Killing of a Sacred Deer) – The Favourite - Poor Things - (Kind of Kindness)

© thevoid99 2018


Anonymous said...

I saw this at TIFF rather than Cannes but it was the kind of movie you immediately wanted to just leave the festival just to talk it out. It still bothers me!

Brittani Burnham said...

I liked this movie quite a bit, but I think it dragged. It could've lost some of its run time and been a bit better, IMO.

thevoid99 said..., there's moments in the film that are disturbing yet it's also done in a funny and weird way.

@Sati-OK, I'll stop.

@Brittani-It didn't drag for me at all. I was so invested by the absurdity of what was happening.

TheVern said...

This movie was very funny and yet very sweet and tragic as well. I liked that Lanthimos shows the absurdity of both sides I never paid attention to the rooms of the couples vs the single ones but I will. I think I loved even more watching people's reaction to this film a bit too

thevoid99 said...

@TheVern-I would've love to see the film with an audience. I just love the absurdity of it as I still get a laugh every time I see Ariane Labed dancing in the woods with her walkman and earphones.