I think Colin Farrell is exceptional across the entirety of Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster, but I have a clear favorite moment. In dire circumstances while roaming the woods outside of the compound where he’s been staying through much of the film, Farrell’s character, David, encounters a newly disgruntled acquaintance (John C. Reilly). Farrell meets the animosity with a desperate attempt to once again ingratiate himself to the person, delivering compliments and reassurances with a stilted calm. It’s a single scene, but it encompasses so much of what I adore about The Lobster: a genial off-filter quality and unhinged creativity that is still cemented in real, identifiable emotions. The fragility of human interaction is threaded all the way through Lanthimos’s film, and he plays out his scenarios with a cunningly bleak sense of humor. In addition to the lithely imaginative writing, Lanthimos constructs images (shot by cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis) that find elegant beauty in the constructed society where absurdity and oppression move together with their fingers lovingly entangled. There’s enough tremendously distinctive about the basic mechanics of the narrative that Lanthimos could have easily gotten by on its zippy jolts. Instead, he knows that any film is better — is at its best — if every element is approached with loving insightfulness.

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