Oh yes! Finally I’ve seen this film and it is just as weird yet beautifully affecting as I expected it might have been. It may not be to everyone’s taste but the premise is unique, the execution is special and different, altogether leaving a product not like most others which is rare and welcome thing.
David (Colin Farrell) is taken to a hotel for singletons. Here he and others have 45 days to find love or be turned into an animal of their choosing. If they find someone they’re moved into double suites and yachts if not there is the chance of gaining more time by hunting Loners in the woods. David struggles but finds himself with a leader (Lea Seydoux) and tries forming a relationship with a fellow short sighted person (Rachel Weisz).
I love the idea for starters, it instantly helps make this film stand apart. Just the blase way that the matter is talked about from the Hotel Manager (Olivia Colman) delivers the notion of what can happen and sets up the absurd nature of the world we’re stepping into. The characters are very one-note in the way they speak yet never dull or paper thin, they have characteristics and backgrounds which are just manifested through awkward conversations. This is one example of the strange humour that runs through the film.
Yorgos Lanthimos co-writes and directs this and like the similarly strange ‘Dogtooth’ there’s a haunting wonder to be seen but an unshakeable threat presented. This one isn’t as severe of course but it’s still got the same social commentary involved, this time around the nature of being alone or not. That pressure of connection is even felt during a trip to a shopping centre where people are questioned for being by themselves. Lanthimos ensures there’s a great originality to his work and you cannot help but get hooked.
There’s darkness in places involving the fate of a dog, a biscuit woman and the very ending itself is squeamish for me at least…it’s also well placed and leaves us on a sombre yet necessary point. Visual splendour can be found in the shots of the outside world, the plot of becoming animals is seen numerous times as we see either flamingos or a camel wandering in the forest.
This movie does have a bleakness to it but it works, you somehow stay on side with the incredibly worrying David, perhaps being the only one given a name helps that connectivity somewhat. The entire product is set up well, the hotel first act, the foresty second and the less agreeable third act still works in the overall arc of David’s quest for love. The only reason I mention the last act in that way is because it begins slightly losing sharpness and lulls a little too.
Farrell is great as David, the way he seems forever shifting and unsure of what’s going on, he says the dialogue really well helping present his character as the awkward man he is, an example is as he tries cleverly exchanging pleasantries with John C. Reilly’s Lisping Man. Rachel Weisz gives an interesting and comedic narration until we finally meet her and I love the weird unspoken communication she and Farrell create together. Lea Seydoux gets an authoritative role yet doesn’t heighten her power, still feeling as reservedly odd like the others. Ben Whishaw provides a solid limp and shows a good amount of humour in his awkward speeches, similarly felt with Jessica Barden who efficiently talks about washing out blood in a hurried yet knowledgeably funny way.
The whole movie has a dead-pan quality and backed by a fantastic willing cast, the writing of Lanthimos lands with an effectively bizarre, beautiful and interesting smack.