Screening in the Special Screenings of AFI FEST 2015 is Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Lobster.” Fresh off festival runs at Cannes Film Festival where it won a Jury Prize, followed by a presentation at the Toronto Film Festival, “The Lobster” hits Los Angeles and AFI FEST with momentum.
Having last week been nominated for seven British Independent Film Awards, including Best Film, Director, Screenplay, Producer and Actors (Colin Farrell, Olivia Colman, and Ben Whishaw), the film a few days later scored five more nominations at the European Film Awards (Best Film, Director, Script, Actor and Costumes). So fittingly it arrives in Los Angeles through AFI FEST just as Academy voters are taking notice of their favorite films for Oscar nominations.
And it will be interesting to see what American audiences will make of this odd, but brilliant mix of dystopian coupledom. In “The Lobster’s” not-too-distant futuristic world, Colin Farrell plays David, a man who has recently been dumped by his wife of 12 years. As he checks himself in for a 45-day stay at a stunning seaside resort, we come to realize that David must romantically recouple with a similar partner. If he doesn’t within the 45 days, he will be turned into an animal. That’s right, a real animal. David’s choice of animal is a lobster.
Thus begins the journey of this resort’s rag-tag group of singles, including John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw, and Ashley Jensen. Assisting with the group’s goals of finding a match, the resort’s manager (Olivia Colman) puts on dances and demonstrations of why being single is deadly. There are also nature hunts in which “loners” are hunted in the local woods and then shot with tranquilizers. Each bagged loner extends a participant’s stay at the resort.
Of course the loners (including Lea Seydoux, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Smiley) have their own agendas and could be thought of antagonists, revolutionaries, or maybe even visionaries. Their rules are no less severe, as order must reign for this group as well.
With a shrill eye towards romance, self-worth and societal rules, co-writer and director Lanthimos transforms this mash-up of science fiction, drama, romance and biting comedy into a winner. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and the message is certainly not wrapped up nicely with a pretty bow. But it’s wicked and fascinating storytelling performed by a cast of top-notch performers.
Whether “The Lobster” scores nominations around Oscar-time remains to be seen. But regardless, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos continues to create wildly creative and observant films (also check out his previous films “Dogtooth” and “Alps”).
“The Lobster” will screen again Tuesday, November 10 at AFI FEST 2015 presented by Audi. For tickets, schedules and theater locations check out the AFI FEST website.