The Lobster – Yorgos Lanthimos

The Lobster starring Colin Farrell, John C. Reilly,Ben Whishaw, and Rachel Weisz Photo Credit: Despina Spyrou/A24

The Lobster starring Colin Farrell, John C. Reilly,Ben Whishaw, and Rachel Weisz
Photo Credit: Despina Spyrou/A24

In the eyes of movie critics, The Lobster is a marvel, it’s both hilarious and thought-provoking; to the average movie-goer who is unacquainted with the strangeness of film festival movies, The Lobster can be summed up with one word: weird. Depending on your preference when it comes to movies, this can be either good or bad. In a dystopian state, Colin Farrell plays David, a man trying to find a mate within 45 days lest he be turned into the animal of his choosing – in this case, a lobster. The movie is just as strange as it sounds and the only saving grace is that the premise and the characters are so odd and so serious, that you can’t help but laugh at the peculiarity of it all. The Lobster is both a drama and a dark comedy. All lines are delivered dead-pan (there is no such thing as a smirk or a smile) and the supporting cast of John C. Reilly, Rachel Weisz, Léa Seydoux, and Ben Whishaw help to propel the film toward its even stranger second-half.

While it didn’t win the Palme D’Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival (the highest prize awarded at the festival), it did win the third-most prestigious prize, the Jury Prize. Unfortunately, this puts The Lobster in the company of films the average person has never even heard of. Historically, only a small number of films that do well at prestigious film festivals such as the ones in Cannes and Toronto  become Oscar contenders with wide theatre audiences and big box office numbers. The Lobster isn’t likely to be one of those given a wide release, but it may get some love come awards season, given the interesting performance by Colin Farrell. Forty pounds heavier and sporting a thick moustache and generic haircut, Colin Farrell is impressive as the defeated, droopy, un-charismatic David.

A movie like The Lobster can only really be recommended to those who appreciate two hours of really dark humour, artistic camerawork, and a uniquely strange plot.  The style is not unlike Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom), but in this case it is even less mainstream and the comedy in The Lobster isn’t exactly “obvious”. Those who truly “get it” will likely find it to be a brilliant, witty, and unconventional satire unlike any other.

Whether The Lobster is just a quirky film with quirky characters or a deeper, social commentary on the pressures of being single and the ludicrousness of applying rules and systems where they do not belong, is entirely up to the viewer. One thing is for certain, though, you’ve never seen anything like it.

The Lobster can now be rented or purchased through Apple.

Watch the official trailer here:

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Room – Lenny Abrahamson

Room starring Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay.
Photo Credit: George Kraychyk/A24 Films

Lenny Abrahamson is an Irishman you’ve probably never heard of before, but you’ll be hearing a lot more of him after this year. With only 4 other feature films under his belt (none that would have played outside of film festivals), Lenny Abrahamson has done something extraordinary with Room. This little film won the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and had an audience of critics and movie lovers on their feet applauding with fresh tears in their eyes. Since then, it has been one of the most talked about movies to snag three Oscars nominations for movies in 2015.

The majority of the movie is a mother and young son confined to a small room, with very minimal supplies and not much hope for a better future. Brie Larson puts in a powerful performance as the young mother who was kidnapped as a teenager and repeatedly raped by her captor while she was forced to live in a small space with a few amenities. Her son Jack, played by Canadian newcomer Jacob Tremblay, has lived his entire life without seeing the outdoors, other than through a small skylight. His reality is “Room” – the generic name they have given their tiny home; not the room, not a room, but just simply Room.

Instead of a completely devastating film, what you get with Room is a bit of a roller coaster ride. At first you just watch them live their day-to-day life and begin to understand their relationship and Jack’s lack of understanding of what life is really like outside. When they decide to escape, you hold your breath, hope they succeed, and likely hold back some tears. As expected, Jack handles their homecoming and his new reality better than his Mom, but it is a slow process as he adjusts to the other people in his life. It is difficult to watch the young mother struggle with her emotions, the unwelcome fame, and with her parents – who are also having a tough time – but the whole thing is incredibly intriguing. At the back of your mind is always the thought that this has actually happened to people, so coupling that thought with the fact that the acting is absolutely flawless, you truly feel for the characters in the movie. Supporting cast includes Joan Allen (The Bourne Series, The Upside of Anger, The Notebook) and William H. Macy (Fargo, The Lincoln Lawyer, Wild Hogs).

Brie Larson (Don Jon, 21 Jump Street) deservingly won both the Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Actress and it’s a real shame that Jacob Tremblay did not receive an acting nomination because he was the other half of the movie and essentially made her performance better. Seeing such range from an 8-year old is incredible and he was certainly more deserving than the winner of Best Supporting Actor category in 2016 (Mark Rylance) and at the very least on par with the other nominees (Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Mark Ruffalo, Sylvester Stallone).

Room is both unforgettable and rewarding. You may not watch it more than once, but you’ll be better for having seen it. It is based on the book “Room” by Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue.

Room was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2015 and was released to an increasing number of theatres in Canada and the U.S from October 2015 to January 2016.

Watch the official trailer for Room here: