The Lobster’ explores a surreal world of mandatory coupling

Rachel Weisz in The Lobster.

Three and a half stars

The Lobster Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman. Directed by Yorgos Lanthinmos. Rated R. Opens Friday in select theaters.

The Lobster boasts a premise so bizarre that it can only be perceived allegorically. Where and/or when the film takes place is unclear, but in this world, being single is not permitted. When a relationship ends, both parties, if otherwise unattached, must check themselves into a sort of resort/prison/singles’ club, where they have 45 days to find a new long-term romantic partner. This dating period can be extended by taking part in hunting expeditions, in which the quarry are single people who’ve gone on the run rather than play by society’s rules. Once the time is up, though, those who fail end up transformed into an animal of their choice. For David (Colin Farrell), whose wife recently left him, a lobster sounds like the most appealing option.

Co-written and directed by Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos, whose Dogtooth was among the best films of 2010, The Lobster spends its first half entirely in the resort, then abruptly shifts gears to follow a group of single rebels (including Rachel Weisz and Léa Seydoux) hiding in the forest. Both parts are so arresting and amusing that trying to work out real-world analogues for all of the nutty strictures and behavior is great fun, even if few are likely to come up with satisfying interpretations. If nothing else, The Lobster is endlessly creative, a quality in short supply these days.

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