“Something’s got a hold of my heart,” sings an off-key Olivia Colman, “tearing my soul and my senses apart!”
She’s crooning on the microphone during an awkward formal dance in The Lobster, the remarkable new comedy (in theaters tomorrow) that EW’s film critic Chris Nashawaty calls “the most original and beautifully strange love story since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind — and my favorite film of the year so far.”
You can see why in this exclusive clip, which offers a rich and wondrous example of Greek writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos’ deadpan tone. The film imagines a world in which single people are sent to a resort (run by Colman’s character) and given 45 days to find a partner — or else be transformed into an animal. Colin Farrell’s character chooses to be the title animal.
This scene takes place during a formal dance thrown for the characters, with musical accompaniment from Colman (The Night Manager, Broadchurch) and her partner, played by Garry Mountaine, who proves his impressive pipes as he belts out his part of this 1967 Gene Pitney classic:
Like many of The Lobster‘s brilliant moments, the dance scene is underlined by a social commentary. The tacit sense of shame that single people are supposed to feel is exacerbated by the cornball falseness and high-school-prom awkwardness of the ballroom. Coming early in the film, the scene is also a great, non-spoilery opportunity to meet the characters, beginning with Farrell as David, who is our guide on this darkly ironic journey.
There’s also John C. Reilly as a man with a lisp (searching, of course, for a woman with a lisp) and the extraordinary Greek actress Angeliki Papoulia (star of Lanthimos’ 2010 Oscar-nominated Dogtooth), who delivers the film’s most severe, committed performance as a calcified sadist.
Ben Whishaw and Ashley Jensen (Catastrophe) appear as a man with a limp and a woman who offers biscuits to all her prospective suitors.
And Colman and Mountaine, who disappear for a long stretch of the film but reappear for an incredibly telling scene near the end, are the deceptively kind faces of authority. Their version of “Something’s Got a Hold of My Heart,” in all its junior prom glory, is strangely captivating and romantic. Much like The Lobster itself.