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If you spent this Valentine's single and ready to mingle, the thought might've crossed your mind of just how your lonely life will pan out. How much fatter can I get? Will the person I invite round off the internet eat me? Should I grow my collection of cats?
Newly released film The Lobster adds another scenario to ponder: find a compatible mate or live out the rest of your life as an animal. But don't worry, you can be whichever one you want. It's a dystopian situation presented in a wearily human way, a population that'd either actually swan around or base relationships on traits like frequent nosebleeds and short-sightedness.
This is the English language debut of arthouse director Yorgos Lanthimos. He’s already beguiled audiences with tales of emotionally stunted doctors playing patients's dead relatives (Alps) or the daughters of a reclusive family looking to escape to freedom (Dogtooth). A down-to-earth darkness is cast over Lanthimos's work.
As the language shifts so does the casting scope, which expands to include international stars like Colin Farrell, the former hellraiser who's incredibly convincing as a portly, socially inept man looking forward to lobster living. There’s also American comic John C Reilly pulling off an Oscar-worthy lisp, plus Ben Whishaw, assured in his determination to overcome any obstacle to find love yet it feels like a stilted performance.
If you take The Lobster as po-faced serious art, you lose out on hilarious lines delivered in the driest sense. The world is meant to be absurd and farcical, the search for The One taken to its stupidest ends. When Olivia Colman’s character assures young couples that, should they run into relationship difficulties, “children can be provided”, you’ll laugh at the perverted subtlety of the situation.
It leaves you with more questions to ponder. Does society place too much pressure on people to find companionship over love? Which of our match’s foibles can we forgive in pursuit of happiness? Most importantly, would I end up as a solitary cock-a-too or a lonely lobster? So, whilst you’re still mingling single, you’ll be sure to watch The Lobster as a relationship moral but don’t worry, you’ll at least have until the end of the movie before you’re turned into a lobster.
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