Tuesday 31 May 2016

The Lobster: A Crop Of... review

Yes, I know I've been very quiet for some time but this, I just had to share with you.

About five years ago I was recommended to watch a film, now this happens all the time but this film was Greek. Despite Greece being my chosen home, I don't watch Greek TV, I love (...loved) my Top Gear, Dr. Who, IT Crowd. Few in the world do it better than the BBC. I love British music (been mainlining Radiohead's new one lately) and I ride a Vespa, which we allow the Italians to make but is STILL British! And, I love British films, we have more astounding actors than anyone, full stop. Anyways up, I conceded to watch Dogtooth and I was spellbound. I couldn't remember a film that had resonated for so long after the closing credits. It is an allegory of the Greek family, society and even the Google globalisation. I was stoked when it was in the running for a foreign language Oscar but it lost to some Danish film (I think) and that, I thought, was that. 

When I heard that Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Fillippou had made another, this time in English, I chaffed at the bit to see it.

The Lobster is about a man, David who is ditched by his wife for another. Bad enough, but this is a society where singles are not tolerated. David is taken to an asylum where he has 45 days to find a partner or be turned into an animal of his choice (yes, it is that weird) David chooses a lobster and Olivia Coleman's Hotel manager congratulates him on his unusual but informed choice. Accompanied by a sheepdog who used to be his brother he tries to find a perfect match. Other men fake nosebleeds and other flaws to connect with the women but David chooses a sociopath and things don't go well. he finally runs from the asylum to join a group of 'Loners' who are just as dysfunctional as the society they live in.

The cast is jewelled with prime British talent like the aforementioned Olivia Coleman, Colin Farrell who rejects his Miami Vice good looks, Rachel Weisz, who can't help being gorgeous, Ben Whishaw, who was brilliant in The London Spy and Ashley Jensen who I loved in Extras. But it wasn't just Brits who made the scene, John C. Reilly who rarely puts a foot wrong and Greece's own Angeliki Papoulia.  However dazzling the cast, they only served as elegant brush strokes on Fillippou and Lanthimos' canvas of macabre observation and wit. Their clipped, metered dialogue shades cinematography that looks like it was filmed on a Poloroid instamatic. Many promising directors take a huge dump on the rulebook only to fall into line when signatures fall on the Hollywood chequebook. This has definitely not been the case with these two, The Lobster is as bemusing and beguiling as Dogtooth. Just think Nolan's Memento, Fincher's Fight Club, Arnofsky's Requiem. What do I know, I couldn't even tell you how much weight De Niro gained and lost for Raging Bull!

I urge you to see both Dogtooth and The Lobster. What I know of Greeks is that they have an opinion on most things but few have the eloquence and wit of Lanthimos and Fillippou. Once you have seen them, I want you to make me a sincere promise that if they make a film that makes sense with one viewing you are to send them packages of FRENCH feta cheese until they get back on track.    

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