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First Cannes Reviews of Yorgos Lanthimos’ ‘The Lobster,’ With Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz

First Cannes Reviews of Yorgos Lanthimos' 'The Lobster,' With Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz

High on cinephiles’ list of Cannes most-anticipated titles, Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Lobster” debuted to mixed but invariably intriguing reviews. The “Dogtooth” director’s English-language debut stars Colin Farrell as a man who must find a romantic partner within 45 days or be turned into an animal and let loose in the woods. As that thumbnail description suggests, “The Lobster” is even stranger than “Dogtooth,” its quasi-science-fictional setting offset by a familiar cast that also includes John C. Reilly, Rachel Weisz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, and Olivia Colman. Initial reactions suggest viewers’ mileage may vary in direct proportion with their tolerance for philosophical whimsy, but it’s clear that using name actors and a larger budget hasn’t compromised Lanthimos in the slightest. If anything, it seems as if he’s used the latitude to push even farther, with results we can’t wait to see.

Reviews of “The Lobster”

Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

If Charlie Kauffman, Miranda July, and Wes Anderson went into the woods together and all had the same vision quest hallucination, it might look something like “The Lobster,” the new film from Greek art house sensation Yorgos Lanthimos (“Dogtooth”), which premieres at the Cannes Film Festival today. It’s got Kauffman’s brainy, inventive, slightly dyspeptic sense of world-building, mixed with July’s dark, offbeat whimsy, and Anderson’s presentational style. Though, to reduce “The Lobster” to a series of comparisons is probably unfair; it’s very much its own unique animal, a strange swirl of satire, allegory, and metaphor that makes a rueful tragic comedy of modern romance.

Lee Marshall, Screen Daily

After “Dogtooth” and “Alps,” Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos and his regular screenwriter, Efithimis Filippou continue to mine an absurdist seam of black comedy-drama in their first English-language outing. The budget boost and all-star cast has done nothing to dilute the trademark weirdness of the Hellenic duo, nor their penchant for stilted dialogue. What lifts “The Lobster” beyond such avant-garde theatrical mannerisms, most of the time, is the pathos that seeps through the film’s unsentimental façade and its sheer belief in the dystopian world it delivers, a world in which single people are changed into an animal of their choice if they fail to find a partner within 45 days.

Robbie Collin, Telegraph

This isn’t the type of film Farrell normally goes for, to say the least, but he’s a revelation here – every bit as funny and hang-doggedly adorable as he was in Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges, but with an additional tragic humility that makes The Lobster, despite its slicing weirdness, surprisingly moving. Every frame has been composed with cerebral coolness, and the hotel and its surrounding forests are shot with a dream-like lucidity. I haven’t seen anything quite like it before, and I’m still not sure that I have even now. This is the kind of film you have to go back to and check it really happened.

Guy Lodge, Variety

Lanthimos’ supremely singular fifth feature — his first in English — takes his ongoing fascination with artificially constructed community to its dizziest, most Bunuelian extreme to date. A wickedly funny protest against societal preference for nuclear coupledom that escalates, by its own sly logic, into a love story of profound tenderness and originality, this ingenious lo-fi fantasy will delight those who already thrilled to Lanthimos’ vision in “Alps” and the Oscar-nominated “Dogtooth,” while a starry international cast should draw as-yet-unconverted arthouse auds into his wondrously warped world.

Donald Clarke, Irish Times

The first two-thirds of “The Lobster” are properly funny in a way Lanthimos’ earlier films couldn’t quite manage. We are in a Nowhere, but the site of Colman and Garry Mountaine delivering a showband version of “Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart” will send a chill down many domestic viewers’ spines. The piece does loose a bit of steam in the later stages when we move away from the core locations. But this remains a poisonously effective work from an utterly singular director. You walk out feeling ever so slightly changed by it. There are few higher compliments.

Leslie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter

The stakes are high, but the director and key collaborators raise their game and the movie is boosted by the sort of eclectic acting line-up not often found outside the confines of a Woody Allen or Wes Anderson film. The result is a richly rewarding but often very disturbing, even harrowing work, and while the cast have clearly embraced the chance to go dark, make-up free and explore a different sort of method, even arthouse-friendly audiences may balk at this strange-flavored brew. In the future, however, it might just be recognized as a classic example of a genre only now just beginning to form.

Dave Calhoun, Time Out

Yes, “The Lobster” is arch: this is cinema in quotemarks, tongue-in-cheek storytelling that uses absurdity to hold a mirror to how we live and love. At its best, it has incisive things to say about how we shape ourselves and others just to banish the fear of being alone, unloved and friendless. Is it a cynical film, scoffing at romance and relationships? Or perhaps the most idealistic movie ever, arguing for truth and honesty on the path to love and happiness? Perhaps it’s both. If only it were able to maintain the best of its scabrous, surreal, inquiring writing all the way through instead of releasing it in short sharp bursts.

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

There are times when the scale of the story, with its ensemble of idiosyncratic characters and outrageous circumstances, strains from too many ingredients. However, the inherent absurdity of the premise maintains its appeal thanks to an unlikely combination of depravity and deadpan comedy. Lanthimos is aided in that tricky balance by a terrific cast, led by the frumpy Farrell in his most original performance ever.

Adam Woodward, Little White Lies

Lanthimos is no misanthrope, but it’s intriguing to see him depict people as inherently narcissistic, though perhaps this is more a comment on the ways in which we are expected to conform to various social archetypes. That’s the great thing about The Lobster, it leaves so much to interpretation. The deliberately stilted dialogue, internalized performances and frosty eroticism all contribute to the absurdist tone that marks this as another curiously unconventional, undemonstrative Lanthimos joint. It is anything but.

Oliver Lyttelton, Playlist

In the end, all the strangeness adds up towards something genuinely significant: an atypically rich and substantial comedy that’s stuffed with great scenes and performances even before you start to chew on its bigger questions. It’s Lanthimos’ most accessible and purely enjoyable film yet, and the first great relationship movie of the Tinder and match.com age. At one point, a character is asked what she wants to do on the night before she turns into an animal, and responds that she’d like to watch the movie “Stand By Me.” If “The Lobster” was the last film put before us before we were transformed into a pony, we wouldn’t complain.

Craig Skinner, Film Divider

This is all obviously highly absurd stuff but Lantimos is fully committed to his odd ideas, and levies an amusing strain of of-kilter comedy to sell the audience on his conceits. Numerous later scenes take place in the woods near the hotel, and when animals — some of whom are clearly not native — come strolling by, one can’t help but wonder who they might have been in human form. There’s a strange sort of creeping immersion that allows the audience to relate to and believe in what they at first found simply very funny.

Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

“The Lobster” is elegant and eccentric in Lanthimos’ familiar style: the world of the hotel is brilliantly created, and the film cleverly mocks the unexamined strangeness of hotels with all their corporate furniture of leisure and relaxation. But once we leave the hotel for the forest, some of the film’s energy, atmosphere and control is dissipated: the superbly clenched, angular weirdness and explosive gags lose their direction and force and Lanthimos’ distinctive weirdness begins to look self-conscious and contrived. The audience is waiting for a climactic transformation scene, or non-transformation scene, or a scene which nails that fascinating and touching idea of a lobster and a lobster’s mysterious destiny. Here, there is disappointment.

Steve Pond, Wrap

For most of its two-hour running time, “The Lobster” is seriously twisted and seriously funny. But when Farrell’s character stops hanging out with fellow lovelorn seekers like John C. Reilly and takes up with a fierce gang of singles who live in the woods, the sick fun slowly grinds to a halt, and the movie grows blacker and less sure-handed.

THE LOBSTER: If Charlie Kaufman doesn’t approve, Buñuel would. Dating is absurd, fundamentalism is everywhere, I laughed my ass off. #Cannes

— Aaron Hillis (@cobblehillis) May 15, 2015

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