Why many critics are won over by the unusual premise of 'The Lobster'

The new movie starring Colin Farrell takes place in an unconventional world. Yet many reviewers say they liked the film because of its ties to themes in our own society.

A24 Films/AP
'The Lobster' stars Colin Farrell (r.), John C. Reilly (l.), and Ben Whishaw (c.).

The new film "The Lobster" is winning over critics despite its unusual premise.

"Lobster," which is directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, takes place in a world in which people who are not part of a couple must go to a hotel, where they either quickly find someone to be paired off with or are turned into an animal. (The selection of animal is their own.)

The film stars Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Léa Seydoux, and Ben Whishaw.

The movie's storyline is an offbeat one, to say the least. Yet the movie has so far gotten mostly positive reviews. How is the movie winning critics over?

A.O. Scott of The New York Times enjoyed the film because he believes it explores interesting questions. " 'The Lobster' could be thought of as an examination of the state of human affections in the age of the dating app, a critique of the way relationships are now so often reduced to the superficial matching of interests and types," Mr. Scott wrote. "It is also, more deeply, a protest against the standardization of feeling, the widespread attempts – scientific, governmental, commercial and educational – to manage matters of the heart according to rational principles." 

Justin Chang of The Los Angeles Times also found the film's discussion of romance intriguing. "Lanthimos unapologetically takes aim at the cherished ideal of monogamous commitment, as well as the ingrained tyranny of any society that regards the single life with contempt or (worse) pity," Mr. Chang wrote.

Stephanie Merry of The Washington Post found that "the movie's second act tends to drag" but she, too, enjoyed the film's discussion of love. "All this is highly amusing, especially when you consider that this oddly sadistic society isn't so very different from ours," Ms. Merry writes of the film. " 'The Lobster' feels longer than its almost two-hour run time … still, the movie is worthwhile, thanks to a marriage of peculiar humor and thought-provoking content."

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