There’s nothing like a good movie to get the ol’ creative juices flowing. I think art inspires art. Creativity inspires creativity. And a good movie inspires a good review.
Maybe I’m growing fond of the indie, art house type films that I’m increasingly exposed to in my new neighborhood. (We may not get mainstream blockbusters like The Secret Life of Pets, but The Lobster topped the Sun-Ray marquis for weeks.) Maybe I favor the setting – a futuristic, dystopian world. Or maybe I love that this social satire’s message seems to be – society’s pressure to couple off leaves single people with some pretty bleak options.
The surreal tale begins as David (Colin Farrell) is left by his wife for another short sighted man. Usually devastating news anywhere, in the world writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos has created, it’s akin to a death sentence. David must now move from the couples-only city to a countryside resort where he has 45 days to secure a suitable partner or be turned into the animal of his choosing (a lobster, hence the title). Doomed guests can avoid this fate by either capturing “Loners” (an escaped band of rebels) during organized hunts, thereby extending their stay as humans or by escaping to the woods to become one of the hunted loners themselves. Aside from all the hunting, other drawbacks to the life of the loner include the complete denial of all romance, even activities as innocuous as flirting, and a chaste existence for all eternity. These are the options for a single person. (That’s all.)
Personalities of the lovelorn singles are comically summed up, with a nod to today’s online dating profiles, by a succinct “defining characteristic.” After befriending “Lisping Man” (John C. Reilly), David attempts to hide his true nature and partner up with “Heartless Woman” (Angeliki Papoulia) which ends as badly as you might expect. He then flees to the woods and soon falls in real love with a partner for which he is truly suited, “Short Sighted Woman,” (Rachel Weisz). Only now, as Loners, their love is tragically forbidden and they must plot to escape back to the city where they can live happily ever after as a matched couple.
The film is dark and disturbing, right down to its ambiguous “did he or didn’t he” ending. In bizarre, out-of-character twists, I chose to believe the bleakest outcome, based on the fact that the entire movie is a little depressing, while my mother went for the happy ending. Either way, this film can be a little much for some and is not for everyone. Personally, I loved it. Especially after a second viewing cemented the story line for me and I picked up on more of its clever concepts. It’s billed as a black comedy and I’ve even read it described as hilarious. I think only the seriously deranged could find it that funny. The best joke comes at the resort as the hotel manager explains that any new couple unable to resolve their differences will be assigned children because that usually helps. That is pretty funny, but, in my opinion, the movie is just too surreal and haunting to be hilarious. And you’re more likely to love it if you take your black comedy heavy on the black, light on the ha-has. Mom may be rubbing off on me yet. Or more likely, I just really appreciate the joke. As I said in my book, it’s a sad commentary on society when disability is a welcome reprieve from being unmarried and over the age of forty. Now that would be a really dark comedy. A society in which you must marry by forty or become crippled. Hey, maybe screenwriting’s in my future.
May be too much for some. Depends on how dark you like your comedy. I found it heavy on the dark, light on the comedy, one of the best jokes being. Thanks to Mom, incr tolerance. And as someone known to joke that disability saved me from the social stigma of being unmarried by 40 (gasp!) I found the message not to be missed.