Hot Take: Unique. Maybe too unique. (Is that possible?) If you polled the audience afterward, 80% of them got it and 90% of those people are lying. Welcome to the king of art house porn for 2016.
I didn’t hate The Lobster. I didn’t love The Lobster, either. Honestly, I didn’t know what to make of the film. It’s been about two days and I still don’t really know what to make of it. It’s funny to read through the reviews of the film and see how many different takes there are. Even funnier is how they are confidentially presented as fact. Unless you wrote it or spoke directly to the person who wrote it and he told you exactly what he meant, I’m calling bullshit. You can think you know what you just watched but with The Lobster, you don’t really know.
The movie goes off on a number of tangents. For some reason, it is often most referred to as a dark comedy. It’s plenty dark and while there are moments of humor, even those moments are a little unsettling. If anything, The Lobster is a horror movie. I think. Seriously, it’s okay to not fully grasp what you just watched even if you’re a reviewer. Actually, it humanizes you as a writer and makes you seem a little less pretentious and cocksure. Maybe the reviewers are embodying what they just watched as The Lobster is extremely pretentious.
So, here’s the plot. In the near future, single people from The City are sent to The Hotel where they have 45 days to find a mate. If they do not find a mate in 45 days, they are turned into an animal of their choice. During their stay, between mingling with the other singles, they are sent to The Woods to hunt The Loners who have escaped The Hotel. At least I assume they’ve escaped The Hotel. If during the hunt, a single person is able to hit one of the loners with a tranquilizer dart and capture them, they will earn an additional day in The Hotel. If they find a mate, they are transferred to The Yacht. What happens after that? Who knows!
The Lobster follows David (Colin Farrell) who is the newest guest in The Hotel. With his brother as his companion (who is now a dog because, well, he didn’t make it when he stayed at The Hotel), David has 45 days to find a mate. We meet a number of characters during the stay. None of the women have names. Oddly enough, the men do: Robert (John C. Reilly) has a lisp and John (Ben Whishaw) has a limp. David is short sighted and wears glasses. While the film could easily be over in about 20 minutes if all of the guests of The Hotel decided to just have relationships to avoid becoming animals that would make for a rather boring movie. Instead, desperation sets in and David finds a way to connect with one of the guests before ultimately deciding to escape and join The Loners.
Life with The Loners isn’t easy either. There’s more rules to follow and romantic relationships are forbidden. If anyone is caught violating the rules, sadistic punishments are doled out. (Unless you think something called “the red kiss” or “the red intercourse” might be a slap on the wrists.) Of course, here David finds his match and now must figure out how to escape with his love: The Short Sighted Woman (Rachel Weisz).
Honestly, there’s a lot going on in The Lobster and almost too much to process in one viewing. It’s a think piece which comes out at a peculiar time of year. Summer isn’t really known for it’s think pieces. The Lobster feels a little out of place on the cinematic slate. The ads undersell it’s bizarre nature. The film is weird. Really fucking weird. There’s no other way to describe it.
It can’t be stressed enough how dark this film is. The performances from Farrell and Weisz are cold. The entire cast is cold. There’s very little emotion to be found in the performances which amps up the stakes of the film. There are emotional outbursts which are magnified by the lack of emotion the rest of the film shows. The Lobster has very little respect for dating, relationships or loneliness. It’s almost as if it’s saying life sucks then you die. Or, possibly, turn into an animal. There is no middle ground though. I think that’s a detail lost here. It’s sardonic wit mocks all aspects of social relationships. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. We’re all doomed. Or maybe I need to watch it again?
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Innately Unique
There are very few direct comparisons to The Lobster. As far as viewing experiences go, David Lynch comes to mind. Gregg Araki is another filmmaker that rings through. I’m unfamiliar with the work of director Yorgos Lanthimos but if the rest of his films are like this, I’m going to stay away for a while as I need time to decompress.
- The Loner Leader
Lea Seydoux plays the Loner Leader to perfection. It’s a standout performance and while Farrell and Weisz carry the film, it’s performances like Seydoux’s that mold it into a film that is well rounded on the acting side of things.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- There Are Some Truly Horrific Scenes
It’s rare I see a film that I want to edit in my own mind. There is a particularly difficult scene to watch in the film. It’s probably the most difficult scene I’ve watched in a while. There are a few other moments in the movie that stand out as more horror than any other film I’ve seen this year that would actually be classified as horror.
- It’s A Little Too Dark
I’ll be the first to admit I might not have understood The Lobster. However, in my estimation the movie seems to have us pegged as what kind of animal we’d be. We’re all sheep!