Colin Farrell channels Dougal McGuire, as he checks in to a dystopian spa, where he has 45 days to find a romantic partner or else be turned into an animal of his choosing. Let’s call it The Love Island of Dr Moreau.
The Anglophonic debut of acclaimed Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, The Lobster has a distinctly European flavour and sci-fi sensibilities; imagine Kafka meets Kaufman.
Lanthimos uses mannered dialogue, classical music and clinical narration to make his black comedy as funny as it is bleak. Wonderfully weird and completely deadpan, it’s an absurdist satire of couple-centric society, full of washed-up characters and washed-out colours.
The hotel itself is as sparse and depressing as a Travel Lodge, with the schlubby Farrell staying in room 101. It’s like The Bland Budapest Hotel, packed with Scientology-style rituals and bizarre characters; Ashley Jensen, Ben Whishaw and Olivia Colman all make welcome appearances.
But once Farrell leaves the Ionescotel, the film quickly runs out of ideas and the logic of the universe soon falls apart. There’s not enough material here for a two-hour movie; it feels as though it would better suit a short story or an episode of Black Mirror.
So it outstays its welcome, but within the walls of the hotel, The Lobster is an intriguing comedy with a hard shell. And sharp claws.