Extraordinary but, actually, whisper it, a bit dull.
Having slept through fairly long tranches of this movie I’d nevertheless call it a success.
Colin Farrell is quite wonderful as the central character who is consigned to a form of detention in a hotel in the depths of Ireland after his partner dumps him. With his brother in tow (a Border Collie names Bob) he has 45 days to find a new partner or face being turned into an animal of his choice which is a lobster. Why? Because they live over 100 years and are fertile throughout their lives.
On arriving he faces a gentle interrogation as to his sexual preferences in which there is a slight suggestion that he may in fact be homosexual but faced with making a decision he opts for straightness. It’s an odd moment that isn’t actually played out in any underlying way in the movie that follows.
It’s a dystopia in which no-one has any names and humans are not just transformed into animals but are also hunted in a nearby forest for hotel extensions.
His quest for love is challenging and results in his escaping the, presumably government run, facility to join a band of guerrilla terrorists where he finds his match in Rachel Weisz. However the terrorists ban love so a complex sign language evolves between the pair as they seek to develop a relationship. It’s kind of silly but also kind of funny.
It’s part farce, part surrealism and has several laugh out loud moments but it’s too slow, dragging endlessly in parts. Yet the juries at Cannes nominated it for their top prize. I can see why, but I can also see why it failed to scoop.
The director, Yorgos Lathimos, is renowned for his satires and this is his first English language excursion and has much in common with previous outings.
This is Farrell’s movie from start to finish as he is rarely off screen. He demonstrates his knack for off kilter humour that had us rolling in the aisles in In Brugges, but this a very different kettle of crustaceans.
Nevertheless he pulls off his task with aplomb. It really is as quite remarkable performance ably supported by John C Reilly, Ashley Jenson and Olivia Coleman.
Great? Not quite.