Spend some time in this horrible dystopia – it’s a delirious joy.
That joy begins from cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis‘ opening frames, within which director and co-writer Yorgos Lanthimos immediately and expertly establishes that the symbolic order you laughingly call “reality” bears only a passing resemblance to the world in which you now find yourself. Language, gesture, tone, call, response, purpose, custom, etiquette – they all shifted along in their musical chairs, and you’re now on your own to figure out where, and what, landed seemingly long ago.
You’re in the hands of a filmmaker who has reinvented the very building blocks of his storytelling, of both the strings he’s pulling and the sensations to which they’re connected, in ways both deeply thoughtful and deeply hilarious. The dystopian world in which unmarried humans eventually turn to animals is so absurd, it really isn’t. Once you accept that, you’re on the wavelength of such summarily, hypnotically bizarre performances from Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz, and the always-seems-to-be-a-revelation Léa Seydoux.
Filmmakers who try to turn upside-down everything you depend on to orient you can often leave you feeling thrown around merely to prove a point. With Yorgos, it somehow feels less like effect and much more like a way of being. It’s unique, and it’s wonderful.
The resigned “response of the characters causes the audience to infer a larger world – a world that exists beyond simply what we see onscreen, one that has strange rules, social norms, and metaphysical or physical laws that are different from our own world’s,” says Thomas Flight, as he examines The Strange Reality of The Lobster – Yorgos Lanthimos’ Absurd Worlds:
“Meticulously crafted… awkward from its very inception… but there was a kind of a logic to how absurd and how disturbing the whole world was”: Colin Farrell describes to Hugh Grant the work of Yorgos Lathimos, and the perhaps unsurprisingly singular experience of being directed by him (via Variety):