Opening 23 Jun 2016
Writing credits: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou
Principal actors: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Jessica Barden, John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw
In this future dystopia, being a couple is paramount, mandatory. Some meet, mate and grow old with a kindred soul. The unfortunate are eventually summoned to The Hotel. Stripped of their personalities – all are uniformly garbed – each has forty-five days to alter his/her fate by finding a (indisputable) partner that Hotel hierarchy approve. Uneasy friendships are made (Farrell, Reilly, Whishaw); participation at group functions is obligatory, rules adhered to. Desperation demands ingenious solutions; physical imperfections unite. Because otherwise, they are expelled to live in the woods as his/her favorite animal. The forest however presents obstacles: The Loners—Hotel escapees the current guests hunt—rule; their edict is solitary living. Our protagonist defiantly escapes into the forest, where a beguiling rebel (Léa Seydoux) leads Loners forcefully enforcing the edict. And David meets his love match (Weisz).
After a promising start, Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou’s screenplay, and Lanthimos’ direction get lost in the forest. The Hotel scenes resonate with Lanthimos’ eccentricity: strange, transient ambiguity all decked out in commercial ubiquitousness. Settings are tongue-in-cheek, dialogue innuendos abound. Then the momentum falters, falls, and is squandered traipsing amid fauna, animals and muddled storytelling. Although humor remains black, it looses its satirical and laconic edge. Thimios Bakatakis’ camera, Jacqueline Abrahams’ set designs, Yorgos Mavropsaridis’ editing, and Amy Ashworth’s music are creditable. Still, having screened The Lobster at Filmfest Hamburg 2015, eight months later I remember it; four colleagues did not. Odds-on a film people will love/hate; see and draw your own conclusion. (Marinell Haegelin)