Last night I saw the Irish film premiere of “The Lobster”, a movie shot in the South West of Ireland which has been causing quite a storm at the Cannes Film Festival. I was lucky enough to grab a seat for the dual-screening in Killarney, and am here to share my thoughts.
And wow, do we have a strange one on our hands for today. Set in a dystopian time which looks very similar to ours, it is ruled that all single people must find a partner at a “Hotel” within 45 days. If they don’t, a pretty bleak fate awaits them. And there’s no real alternative, no going it on your own. Our lead David (Colin Farrell) checks himself into the Hotel, and we follow his time as he tries to find a partner within the extremely beautiful surroundings, but against the strict and emotion-stripped atmosphere.
Just getting past that premise alone is a bit tricky, it is so strange and unnatural watching it from a conventional point of view. The way people talk, interact with each other, and express themselves isn’t exactly robotic, but feels like a society that has been beaten down until individuality is just a trait and nothing more.
The story follows a slightly cracked, but linear enough path, as we David’s time begins to trickle away and his chances grow fewer and more desperate. I do need to applaud the performances in here, since the script and required delivery must have been very demanding. There’s a lot going on under the surface that you slowly centre upon as the movie progresses. There’s a large cast of side characters and extras who work to enhance the general atmosphere that is being aimed for here.
And as I mentioned earlier, the scenery is just gorgeous. The bay in Sneem, the mountains of Kerry, the ballroom, they’re all just a joy to look at and are supremely captured on camera. The lighting especially make a difference , and with the changeable conditions we have here, that must have made the scenes all the more challenging to nail down. It’s odd seeing this serene kind of beauty in a movie where the characters are conversing on such a base level of humanity, but I think it does kind of work out.
So, as a visual spectacle and something to provoke thought, this is ticking all the boxes so far. But as a film….. I find it quite difficult to actually like it. As an audience member it is very tricky to find level ground where things can click together. The dry monologue almost works to disconnect you from what is happening on screen, it is just too flat and offers little to the narrative. And then there is the final Act, which neanders from one point of focus to the next without really having a sense of where it is going to end up at. It was here that my attempts to keep with the film began to fade out and splutter to a halt. It looks interesting but just…. doesn’t hold the substance.
Trying to conclude my thoughts on “The Lobster” is a tough task made even more difficult by the nature of the content. Genrral audiences might not find much in here to connect with, and certain SUPER DARK aspects will make some people loathe it. It’s like trying to listen to Opera that’s playing just out of ear-shot. You catch moments of interest and beauty, but on the whole, what can you say about the piece you tried to hear?
However, it is an incredibly interesting premise once you work out where it stands. I spend 20 minutes afterwards just imagining what the rest of that dystopian world would be like. How it all began, what caused the regine to start? The cinematography and lighting are simply wonderful, it is peppered with moments of unexpected comedy and genuine laughs, as well as chuckles at the absurdity of it all.
And on a final positive not… you will not see anything else like this film this year, it is utterly unique in the core design and application to screen. Praise certainly has to be given for that. I think that under the right conditions and giving it a chance, you might have an interesting experience watching this one. Just don’t go seeking the concrete foundations, this one moves about quite a bit.
Thanks for reading!