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quinta-feira, 15 de outubro de 2015
The Lobster review: 'like nothing you've seen before'
Colin Farrell excels in this hilarious and bracingly weird story about love, loneliness and animals
Bad moustaches don’t come much better than the one sported by Colin Farrell in The Lobster. It lurks on his upper lip like a leech, drinking the sex appeal out of his face.
Throughout his career, almost every role Farrell has played has been built on his near-comical handsomeness – even in the dust-blown epic Alexander, he looked like he’d gone through the entire Macedonian army’s supply of Timotei. The first thing to admire about Yorgos Lanthimos’s new absurdist comedy is the way it jostles him – and, as a result, us too – out of that slightly tatty comfort zone.
Farrell’s character, David, is paunchy and glum, with unstylish glasses and a Father Dougal haircut. When we first meet him, his wife is leaving him for another man, and in the world of The Lobster, this is even worse news than normal. Single people aren’t tolerated here, so David is immediately taken by two nurses to a seaside spa resort for processing.
The clipped Hotel Manager (Olivia Colman) tells him he must now find another partner from among his fellow inmates – and if, after 45 days, he’s been unsuccessful in this endeavour, he’ll be transformed into an animal of his choosing and shooed into the woods.
As the title suggests, David quite fancies becoming a lobster if things don’t work out: they can live for over 100 years, they’re blue-blooded (“like aristocrats”), and he also likes the sea. But it’s surely no coincidence that David’s chosen creature has been the mascot of the surrealist movement ever since Salvador Dalí thought to plonk one on top of a telephone in the 1930s. Lanthimos’s film works on much the same principle: when individually familiar but unrelated objects are placed side by side, both start to radiate oddness.
David’s day-to-day activities at the hotel – meals, seminars and dances, mostly, with a bit of swimming – are narrated by a nameless woman, played by Rachel Weisz: she’s one of the "Loners", or fundamentalist singletons, who live feral in the hotel grounds, and are hunted by the inmates at night. At first, Weisz’s character simply tells us David’s story, but in the film’s second half, she becomes drawn into it – or perhaps it’s he that is drawn into hers.
It’s hard to get a handle on exactly what their relationship is, or what it could become – which is, of course, the whole idea. If The Lobster makes one thing clear (and I’m not sure it does), it’s the blunt ludicrousness of expecting human beings to slot neatly into any kind of system designed to iron out society’s kinks.
Even when David first arrives at the hotel, his shoe size (44.5 European) causes a headache: they only have 44s or 45s, so he just has to pick one or the other and make it work. It’s the left-swipe-right-swipe mentality carried to absurd extremes: Buñuel for a post-Tinder world.
Lanthimos has drawn his cast from all over the place, but through some mad comedic alchemy, the mixture works. Ben Whishaw and John C. Reilly are a pair of bickering inmates, Anjeliki Papoulia, from Lanthimos’s Greek-language films Dogtooth and Alps, a pitiless sadist, Ashley Jensen a wretched soul with a weakness for butter biscuits.
The film is dominated by Weisz and Colman’s voices, who deliver their coldly hilarious lines with the same geometric precision of Thimios Bakatakis’s camerawork, which somehow manages to turn the elegantly crumbling hotel and its grounds into a kind of deadpan funhouse.
Fans of the comedy of Chris Morris will feel instantly at home. Others may take time to acclimatise – but despite The Lobster’s slicing weirdness, and the way it elides a clean allegorical reading, the emotions it stirs and the fallacies it attacks are all too real. It might be the greatest bad date movie ever made: even if it puts you off relationships for good, if your partner laughs, you’ll know they’re a keeper.