Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Stars: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz
4 (out of 5) Globes
“The Lobster” isn’t technically a comedy, but it has more jokes than most Adam Sandler movies, and quite a lot more that actually land. They’re not nice jokes. The laughs, which come early and often, stick in the throat. The alterna-world Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos creates is a grim yet silly (yet very, very grim) one: Single people are rounded up and sequestered in a posh, country hotel, where they’re given 45 days to find a mate. If they fail, they’re turned into an animal (of their choice, which is nice). Our hero, a freshly divorced sadsack played with dry commitment by Colin Farrell, has chosen a lobster. Why? His reasoning is simple and thought-out: They live long and he likes the sea.
It’s important that “The Lobster” is consistently funny. Otherwise it might send us walking in front of a bus. It still does damage. It’s life viewed at its most pessimistically, not just to get us down but to force us, like the best absurdist works, to reexamine the cruelties we accept as fine. Lanthimos and cowriter Efthymis Filippou’s most obvious target is love and relationships. The dense and draconian rules of the hotel push its inhabitants into pairing off over shared tics: One young woman (Jessica Barden) gets nosebleeds; a a self-serious man (Ben Whishaw) has a limp. The two wind up matching, but only after the latter learns that if he bangs his head repeatedly and violently on tables he too can run red from the honker. Isn’t compatibility always some form of smoke and mirrors?