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The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos’ dystopian, surreal comedic drama is set in a world where single people are made to find a partner otherwise, within forty five days, face the bizarre prospect of being turned into a wild animal. Anyone who has been a single person at a wedding: being told, “you’re next”, or asked “do you have a girlfriend these days”; almost as if there’s something wrong with you if you are single can relate to this one. Set in a non-descript world (but actually filmed in the serene surroundings of The Park Hotel in the picturesque Co. Kerry town of Kenmare, is something that anyone who has faced an awkward rejection or treated as a pariah just because they happen to be single; either through choice or because they simply haven’t met anyone compatible yet.

Even if you’re not single the sense of having to adhere to the constraints of what the majority think of as the norm or the fun thing to do are all too prevalent in this bleak but telling tale of social constraint and conformity. Colin Farrell stars as David, a man who’s wife has died and who comes to The Hotel seeking a suitable partner. In an all-star cast Oscar winner Olivia Coleman plays the hotel manager, a would-be matchmaker who’s job it is to ensure that the rules are kept and that people are either matched up or meet their fate. The sense of a fun holiday camp/ tour operator type that Coleman plays sets the tone for the entire film. This is one of those awkward teenage discos many of us went to back in the day, except that the teenagers are full-grown adults and the disco has a sinister side. One of the scenes that typifies the entire film is when four of the characters go into the city to meet friends, they feel the need to pretend that they are matched up to each other, pretend to be someone that they are not.

The fact that each of the guests who are staying at the hotel live with the threat of being turned into animals; perhaps a commentary on the predatory elements of dating that can often be ignored or overlooked in favour of the much more appealing slushy stuff.

Where the film does seem to turn things on it’s head however is when David and some of the other residents find themselves escaping the hotel come across a group of fellow escapees where the complete opposite conformity; namely that of remaining single and not being permitted to have a relationship come into play. The narrative faces another twist when David begins a romantic relationship with one of his fellow forest dwellers. As their relationship develops the two form a language of their own as a way of secretly communicating, in much the same way as those within a relationship form a special bond and communication unique to them.

Despite a rather bizarre; which in fairness is no less bizarre than the rest of the film, and therefore in keeping. This watchable drama is an excellent social commentary on the way humans interact with each other and the strange fixation that many people often have on relationships and how they are conducted in modern society.

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