I was scratching my head about The Lobster before one of many orange-shirted TIFF volunteers had ripped my ticket. All I knew was that it had better be good. Taking our seats only minutes after Demolition (our first screening of the Festival), the Lobster had some big shoes to fill.
I found it hard to tell how the audience in general reacted to yesterday‘s North American premiere. Their applause and questions seemed more courteous than the more rapturous reaction to Demolition and Eye in the Sky. I, for one, immediately congratulated myself for gambling one of my precious 10-pack tickets on this wonderfully bizarre movie.
In what I believe is his first English-language feature, Greek co-writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos told us that he and co-writer Efthymis Fllippou got to talking about how they’d like to make a movie about relationships and so…they made this. In a world where pressure on singles to partner up has reached a whole new level, recently dumped Colin Farrell is forced to check in to a hotel where he has 45 days to find a mate or he’ll be turned into an animal of his choice (a lobster in his case). The rules of this world are weird but oddly familiar, with hotel residents desperately seeking oddly specific things they can have in common with their dates (beware the nosebleeds scene, as well as so many others). It’s weird, but as the survivor of many bad dates, I sort of understood this world.
The Lobster is a laugh-out-loud funny movie, especially in the increasing absurdity of the situation and the Wes Andersony matter-of-factness with which the cast (Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, and Ben Winstan) deliver their absurd lines. It’s also, as Lanthimos and Weisz kept insisting, strangely romantic (albeit in a perverse way). It’s one-of-a-kind and I can’t wait to see it again.