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The Lobster

[…] We experience this mixture of two worlds like in a dream: funny, at times, and sometimes nightmarish. The virtue of this movie is in its dreamy ambiguity, which creates a strong emotional atmosphere; something unique.

This film is clearly more than just an exercise in black humor. In his first English film (which received the Jury Prize at Cannes last year), Yorgos Lanthimos brings us on a two-hour long journey through a parallel world, where being single is punished. Of the residents in a castle/hotel, all of the singles have 45 days to find a partner, otherwise they will be transformed into animals. Outside, in the surrounding forest, live the lonely people who are hunted by residents of the hotel. It is like a game, but a serious one. Our hero experiences these two societies, both of which are under the rule of a dictatorship. What strikes me in this film, even more than the apparent criticism of a fascist rigidity of values and roles, is the peculiar submissiveness of the characters, who are nonetheless able to rebel. We experience this mixture of two worlds like in a dream: funny, at times, and sometimes nightmarish. The virtue of this movie is in its dreamy ambiguity, which creates a strong emotional atmosphere; something unique. The minimalist setting, the obsessive and repeating excerpt of a Beethoven string quartet, and the dry dialogues, all serve to stress both the hallucinatory dimension of the story and the allegoric dimension of the situation. In the last part of the film, when the concept behind the allegory has been largely understood and digested, there remains only the thin and untrue adventure of the couple. This is arguably too small a matter to reach after two hours of screening… Anyway, The Lobster is a film that works the most after viewing, thanks to the lasting force of the atmosphere it has created.

Text: Giuseppe Di Salvatore

First published: May 02, 2016

The Lobster | Film | Yorgos Lanthimos | UK-GR-IRL-FR-NLD 2015 | 118’

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Screenings in November 2017 at Stadtkino Basel, Landkino Liestal, Kino Xenix Zürich

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