Cannes: ‘The Lobster’ Director Yorgos Lanthimos on Love and Absurdity

There is an element of social satire to the story, says Yorgos Lanthimos (above)

Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, whose comedy-drama “The Lobster” screens in Cannes’ competition May 15, sees it as a “love story,” albeit one set in a crazy parallel world where different rules apply, he told Variety.

The film is set in a city where single people who fail to find a partner in 45 days are turned into animals and released into the woods. The lead character would like to become a lobster.

Film’s stars Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw and John C. Reilly will be on the red carpet in support of the film.

This absurdity aside, it is primarily a movie about the complexity of human interactions. “It’s about people being in couples, being single, about being in love, or not being in love, about being in relationships,” he said. It delivers a warts-and-all view of relationships. “It’s an honest portrayal. The way we see and explore it, it is neither positive nor negative.”

There is an element of social satire to the story. “The whole thing is an exaggeration of what we observe in daily life,” Lanthimos said. “Taking all these behaviors, codes, pressures, norms and rules that we have, and observing them in a more exaggerated way, and seeing where that leaves us.”

Life for single people in our world can be tough after a certain age, he noted: “There is always an awkwardness in social relationships between single people and couples.”

The idea for the film had sprung from a relationship: Lanthimos’ writing partnership with Efthimis Filippou, with whom he also penned his previous two films as director, “Dogtooth,” which was Oscar-nominated and won the top Un Certain Regard prize in Cannes, and “Alps,” which played in competition in Venice and won the screenplay award.

“Every time, we just start discussing themes and ideas that we are interested in, and it is always a process of someone saying something, and the other one evolving it, and coming up with a story idea, and the other one coming up with a character idea. So it just keeps evolving from our conversations,” he said.

The tone of “The Lobster” is similar to that of his previous two pics. “We have a certain kind of tone in our films that strikes a balance between very dark situations and absurd and humorous ones. So I guess this is no different in that respect,” he said.

So what’s next for Lanthimos? “I’m writing another script with Efthimis Filippou, and I’m also developing a period film. I don’t know which will come first,” he said.

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