Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Lobster (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

The Lobster

From the uncompromising director Yorgos Lanthimos, whose striking film "Dogtooth" focused on an overprotective father shutting in his kids, here is "The Lobster" depicting a suspicious future where being a single person means exile from the human race.

Colin Ferrell is David, a humdrum architect whose wife left him. As government dictates, David is sent to a huge hotel, a kind of Marriott, where he has forty five days to engage in social activities and find a spouse, or else. Batchelorhood and permanent divorce is verboten.

While the premise might at first seem light and silly, the film is far from it. And though reminicent of tales like "1984," "Brave New World" and Franz Kafka, the story has pockets of savage gallows humor to make the preceedings suitably startling and haunting by turns.

To start with, Colin Farrell is nearly unrecognizable as the monotone draftsman. He moves about in a halting rhythm as if held back by a heavy sleep that he cannot shake. Accessorized with a small mustache, Farrell walks hesitantly forward like a Charlie Chaplin of cyberspace. Rather than resist, his character often lets the strange events pass through him. These episodes, frequently involving animals and reproachful looks, are portrayed with a crystal clear sharpness and lucidity as in a painting by Salvador Dali.

Actor Ben Whisaw is a limping man, who alongside a lisping man,  (John C. Reilly) befriends the often speechless David. Rachel Weisz is a spunky but shortsighted ally as well.

While the starkness of the setting combined with deadpan delivery may not be to all tastes, it would be a mistake to get hung up on the echoes of science fictions past. "The Lobster" is unapologetic and biting in its jokes that come with gasps of disbelief. Some will say this is a comedy,  while others might call it a cautionary tale of control gone rabid.

No matter how you define this odd film, the director Yorgos Lanthimos is to be applauded for taking unsavory situations and presenting them just as they might appear in the logic of a dream with confrontation and force.

But more importantly still, in an age of formulaic cinema where our reactions are often hand-fed rather than explored, Lanthimos gives us the space necessary to freely ponder and reflect.

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