If you’re looking for a heartwarming, neatly packaged Hollywood confection, Grand County Library Assistant Jessie Magleby says you will be disappointed by “The Lobster,” this month’s free movie at Star Hall.
“But if you appreciate the absurd, the surreal and the cynical, you will want to see this unusual work of art,” she says.
“The Lobster,” which will screen at Star Hall on Thursday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m., stars Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz. It takes place in a dystopian future where single people are captured and monitored in a hotel, where they are given 45 days to find a partner. If they do not “make it,” they are turned into an animal of their choice.
“[This] film is quite unusual, even by our standards,” Magleby says.
The film is the English-language debut of Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, who – according to The New York Times – is an acclaimed “deadpan dystopian comedian, an inventor of absurd, highly regulated societies that seem to exist in hidden pockets of everyday reality.”
Lanthimos was previously known for his films “Dogtooth” and “Alps,” while “The Lobster” continues to gain recognition among critics as his best work yet.
The film was selected for the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
But it was the Utah Film Center’s Director of Programming, Patrick Hubley, who selected “The Lobster” for the latest in the Moab series, presented at Star Hall each month in partnership with the Grand County Public Library.
“It definitely challenges perception of love and relationship in a thoughtful and not condescending way,” he says.
Hubley says the program aims to show a variety of the best independent and documentary films, and feedback from the library is positive.
“People appreciate the diversity,” he says.
Magleby says this particular film is not for the squeamish or the easily offended. She offers it as a treat for those who are bored by the usual “sappy holiday fare.”
Yet, while “The Lobster” is widely considered an indictment of modern relationships, romance is not totally absent.
Farrell’s character, David, is left by his wife and sent to what appears to be an upscale old-fashioned hotel, yet feels more like a prison for the partnerless. In this regimented setting, David becomes familiar with several characters who must all face the challenge of finding a match before their time is up.
After several failed attempts at contrived relationships, David makes a break for the woods, where a rebel faction known as The Loners live in fear of being hunted. The Loners are founded on the complete rejection of romance – creating the opportunity for David to lose faith in the dogmatic love of his time and unexpectedly find something else in its place.
“[The story] sounds like fairy-tale witchcraft, but there is nothing especially magical about ‘The Lobster,’” writes A.O. Scott of The New York Times. “It’s an aggressively literal-minded movie, set in a world where metaphors are all but banished and dreams and fantasies are drab and desperate affairs. The patrons of the hotel would be ridiculous if they were not so miserable, and vice versa. They are, in every sense, disenchanted.”
Magleby acknowledges the film as disturbing, but considers it equally humorous. She sees the film as thought-provoking and relevant to our “age of the dating app,” as identified by Scott.
Scott calls the film “a critique of the way relationships are now so often reduced to the superficial matching of interests and types.”
“The Lobster” comes to Star Hall on Dec. 15
What: “The Lobster”
When: Thursday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m.
Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.
Star Hall is located at 159 E. Center St. For more information, go to www.utahfilmcenter.org, or call the Grand County Public Library at 435-259-1111.
[This] film is quite unusual, even by our standards.