7:30 PM, 29th April, 2016
In the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, the Sonderkommandos were a select group of prisoners who were forced to assist the guards in the mass extermination of Jewish people. Son of Saul portrays the Holocaust from the perspective of one of these prisoners. Saul’s job is to collect valuables from victims before they die, and clear the bodies away afterwards.
When a young boy survives the gas chambers for a few more minutes than expected, Saul adopts him as his son, and sets out to give the boy a proper burial. In a world where Saul is pushed and pulled constantly from one place to another to work, this small act of individuality becomes a monumental undertaking.
The film also experiments with many long takes shot using hand held cameras, alongside the use of a 40mm lens with a shallow depth of field. This means that much of the brutality and horror occurs slightly off-screen, or blurred in the background. This doesn't detract from the horror, but cements our perspective with Saul. Much of the film is spent looking at Saul's back, or his stoic face.
It is a full-on film; a confronting, haunting experience that is difficult to sit through; but it tells an important story, and brings a sliver of hope and humanity into a dark, dark place in human history.
9:27 PM, 29th April, 2016
This screening of The Lobster is proudly presented by the Embassy of Ireland
The evening of Thursday 5th November 2009: a small audience at the Canberra International Film Festival have a truly unique experience together, the kind that compels you to turn to a stranger afterwards and discuss what you have just seen. The movie was Dogtooth and, in one of the most bizarre moments in Oscar history, the film went on to score a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film that year.
Fast forward to Friday 23rd October 2015: I am in a cinema watching the new film from the same director, Yorgos Lanthimos: The Lobster. Two things I remember from that screening: (1) I was the only person laughing at many of the scenes, which means it was a very different audience from 2009, and (2) a fellow audience member asked me after the screening ‘Have you ever seen anything like that?’, to which I responded ‘Well,……’
So, if you haven’t got the message yet, The Lobster is very different cinema. And not just different in the way some people say ‘Oh, Guardians of the Galaxy is a very different Marvel film’; no, this is very different. And it is fantastic.
The plot? Well, a bunch of single people go to The Hotel, where they have 45 days to find a partner, otherwise they get turned into an animal. So, just your run-of-the-mill story then…
Last thing I have to say? Don’t be afraid to laugh during this film. Even when you think it might be inappropriate. Because it is a comedy.