Two by two
For a while, it looks as though the most appealing character in The Lobster might be a dog named Bob. Plus, the most suspenseful element might be mostly a matter of wondering when a top-billed Rachel Weisz will finally appear onscreen. And then there’s the matter of Colin Farrell, also top-billed, looking dim-witted and paunchy, and not at all buff and heroic.
But none of these rather conventional worries should be a reason for avoiding this dry-humored dystopian satire with its resolutely unconventional take on love, marriage, romance and comic entertainment. Bob, for instance, seems “human” in ways that most of the movie’s humans do not. And Weisz is present right from the start, as a narrating voice, but we won’t really appreciate that until her character’s arrival as an onscreen force in the story.
Most important, perhaps, Farrell’s heroically unheroic portrayal of a divorced plodder named Dave is right at the heart of whatever romance is left in the world of this drolly anti-romantic picture. And in its moody way, it just might be one of the best performances this actor has given in movies so far.
Writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos and co-writer Efthymis Filippou build their satire on the idea of a couples-only world in which unmarried adults are required to find a partner of the opposite sex or suffer the penalty of being transformed into the animal of their choice. Dave’s choice, for odd reasons that are probably to his credit, is a lobster (hence the film’s title).
But before any of that can happen, he discovers the Short Sighted Woman (Weisz) among the Loners, the militant solitaries who do armed battle with the couples-only forces seeking to hunt them down. Farrell’s Dave and the Weisz character cross battle lines to make common cause. Peculiar satirical complications ensue.