Yorgos Lanthimos is one of those filmmakers whose reputation proceeds any new movie he makes, but when you first gain worldwide attention by making something as shocking as 2009’s Dogtooth, that’s bound to be the case. It’s not just the content of Dogtooth that made it so memorable to those who watched it though, it was the way in which Lanthimos was able to introduce his viewers to a world that was intensely jarring and disorienting, all while keeping his eye on the human heart of his story and giving the audience just enough of an emotional anchor to hold on to so that the film didn’t degenerate into substanceless shock or absurdity. The same was also true, though probably to a lesser extent, with his 2011 film Alps.
Now that he’s getting ready to make his first English-language film with his first cast of familiar Hollywood actors, however, it’s going to be interesting to see what, if anything, changes about his approach to storytelling. He once again wrote the script for his new film, The Lobster, with his regular collaborator, Efthymis Filippou, so one might think that there wouldn’t be too much of a stylistic shift between it and his past work, but, on the other hand, now that there’s a report that Lanthimos’ new film will be starring names as mainstream as Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, is it possible that he could be utilizing their talents to make something as weird and niche as his last few movies?
If the plot synopsis for The Lobster is to be believed, then it seems like that’s absolutely going to be the case.
If you’ll recall, there was already a casting report on The Lobster that came out last October. At that point it was announced that Lanthimos’ new film would feature an ensemble of actors that included Jason Clarke, Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, and Olivia Colman, and that it was going to be a romance set in a strange future where being single is illegal, and if someone is caught being single they are given 45 days to either find a mate or be transformed into an animal.
Well, a new report from THR says that nothing has changed about that strange, fascinating-sounding plot, but things have shuffled around a bit as far as the casting situation is concerned. In addition to the film now having Farrel and Weisz on board, Lanthimos regulars Ariane Labed (who was also the pretty girl in Before Midnight last year) and Aggeliki Papoulia (whose performance in Dogtooth probably still has you shaken) have also been added to the cast, and unfortunately it seems that Jason Clarke has had to drop out of the production at some point.
Lanthimos said of the new additions to his cast, “I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to work with such great actors. Their contribution to our film will enrich and expand the world we are trying to create and explore. Furthermore our team of old and new collaborators makes me very confident and excited to start making this film.” That sounds like the typical, generically pleasant quote that everyone gives trades when talking about the casting process of their new films, but I think that if you can read between the lines you can tell that Lanthimos is planning on forcing Farrell and Weisz to take part in some pretty sick shit. Humans being forced into relationships or they get turned into animals? What does that even mean? It should be tons of fun when we eventually get to go through the process of finding out.
Now that it has a firm cast in place, The Lobster is set to start filming in Ireland on March 24.