The Lobster ★★★★

Interesting seeing this after THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY, as it explores similar thematic material (What would you do for someone you love?), albeit through a wildly different lens; where Strickland's universe is about internal compromise, Lanthimos focuses on the external markers of conformity. It means perhaps the emotional payload is a little less resonant, but the shocks will jar you enough that you don't notice. (The penultimate shot left me in a cold sweat the likes of which I've not experienced since ANTICHRIST - all without any onscreen gore. [It would be a spoiler to say if there is offscreen gore.])

Also: Colin Farrell is fucking brilliant in this. I'm not sure I've ever thought much of him in anything, but damn does he nail Lanthimos's aesthetic. (And, as an aside: how good has Lanthimos done working in English? Few foreign-language filmmakers make the transition to English and working with stars like this, aesthetic fully intact. It helps that non-naturalistic dialogue delivery is only to the film's advantage, probably, but still.)

One person I spoke to considered it diminishing returns, and yes, it is a similar set of ingredients to DOGTOOTH and ALPS: structures of control, satirizing the basic societal building blocks, moments of deadpan comedy and moments of shock delivered in unexpected turns, and so on. But it still felt fresh to me, partially because of the scope, partially because Lanthimos's capacity for cruelty means anything can happen. (One late breaking moment at the hotel cleverly undercuts expectation here, keeping us on our toes in an entirely different way.)

Kudos to the Film Festival for opening with this, and here's hoping a distributor brings it back. Would love to give it a second look.

Also, nice room 237 reference after three symmetrical Kubrickian hotel shots.