The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest masterpiece
« I’m sure that there are people who really like what we do and others who don’t[…] I just think it is interesting to start a dialogue », Yorgos Lanthimos, leading figure of the Greek film directors’ new generation, said modestly in a recent interview with Diana Lodderhose (BFI). After the striking Dogtooth (winner of Un Certain Regard in 2009 Cannes International Film Festival) and the Alps (Osella for Best Screenplay at the 68th Venice International Film Festival), Lanthimos’ latest English-language film The Lobster, with its international casting, won the prestigious Jury Prize at the 2015 Cannes International Film Festival and made the young director famous world-wide.
The Lobster is a fascinating dramatic dark comedy, a dystopian love story set in the near future. It stars Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz in the leading roles, two famous actors who were already aware of Lanthimos’ work and were both interested in becoming part of the director’s surrealist cinematic universe, as Rachel Weisz explained (BHmagazino, October 2015). The film depicts the absurdity of a tyrannical, puritan society, which obliges all single people to go to a special sort of hotel in order to find a partner in 45 days, or they are transformed into animals. « It’s got the essence of loneliness », said Colin Farrell in an interview with Henry Barnes (The Guardian), « Maybe a human being’s fear of aloneness can be abused ? ». We soon discover that those who wish to escape, hide themselves in the woods where they organize their struggle. What a surprise though, they are not more tolerant neither less puritain than the others, since they have banned all romantic relationship in their group. The suspense is present from the start till the end of the film : will David (Colin Farrell), the single man, accept to find a partner through a procedure which reminds us of reality shows ? What will happen after he meets the short-sighted woman (Rachel Weisz) in the woods ? Through its odd, satirical situations, its formal beauty and its actors’ theatrical playing, The Lobster surprises us with the strong emotion it creates, questions our capacity to think freely and compels us to ask ourselves what we would be ready to do out of love.
Does The Lobster’s final scene « represent the supreme enslavement or its most extreme denial ? », wonders Jacques Morice in his film review (Telerama). We are not ready to take the risk to answer this question. Like Yorgos Lanthimos said to Diana Lodderhose, it is all about « exposing aspects of human life and situations and thoughts that you have… Hopefully people watching will start thinking themselves about those things and come up with their own answers. Whatever we have observed in our behaviour and the way we have constructed this world, we want to make people wonder whether all of those things are true ». This is probably why the film ends with the meaningful lyrics of an old Greek song, « What is that thing called love».
Having been captivated by Lanthimos’ charming and original way to look at our world, we can not help looking forward to enjoying his future films. We can only wish to the young Greek director, who started his career with some remarkable, though low-budget films made with his friends’ help, and has already won several film festival rewards, to find enough support to continue his work, as creative and genuine as ever.
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