Thursday, June 16, 2016

Movie Review #440: "The Lobster" (2016)

Movie"The Lobster"
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes
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After being left by his wife for another man, David (Colin Farrell) is taken to a Hotel where all singles have 45 days to find a new lover, or be turned into the animal of their choice. In his case, David wants to become a lobster if he does not find a mate.

Directed by controversial director Yorgos Lanthimos, "The Lobster" is an off-beat dark romance set in a dystopian future. David, played by Colin Farrell, is an architect who has just been informed by his wife that she is leaving him for another man. In response, he is taken to a Hotel that has the sole purpose of allowing single people to find a love again. Each guest has 45 days to find a match, and if they fail to do so, they will be turned into an animal. If David fails, he wants to be turned into a lobster because they have long lifespans, stay fertile for their entire life, and because he likes the ocean. After being matched with a woman based on a lie, David flees the Hotel and wanders into the woods, where he meets up with and begins to live with the Loners, a romanceless group of people who are hunted by the residents of the Hotel in order to elongate their stay beyond the 45 day period.

BigJ and I were very much looking forward to this film. Lanthimos offers a very cynical look at love and life with this story. There isn't much room for hope or optimism from its point of view. Every relationship seems fake and superficial, only based off of one random similarity, like a limp, shortsightedness, a bloody nose, or nice hair. Usually, one member of the relationship is lying about their attribute in order to be given a bigger room at the Hotel, and eventually a 2 week stay on a yacht and freedom to enter the City. Every character speaks in a monotone, deadpan voice, never offering anything that even resembles an emotion. This is done intentionally, possibly for comedic purposes, but also to drive home the idea of how dreary life and love are and will be in this (and the) future.

For once, BigJ and I disagree, and oddly enough, it's "The Lobster" that did it. There's no denying that director Yorgos Lanthimos makes it a point to tell his tale with a cynical, dark, depressing tone. We wonder what happened to Lanthimos that made him have such a depressing outlook about life and love. Every word and phrase has an underlying purpose, every scene is ultimately a metaphor. This is a big trope of the indie genre, and it doesn't always mean it's effective. It's hit or miss here. It is meant as a dark comedy, and while I am a bit more inclined to see the humor through its cynicism, to BigJ, it is just a dark, unfortunate film. Dark comedies usually have some sense of irony or satire, two thing he never really found in this film. At first, I agreed with him, but after thinking about the movie over the last 24 hours, I do see the irony, some odd, twisted humor in it all. There is a certain level of absurdity to everything that goes on, but it ventures into areas that are just too obscene and too off-putting, all for the sake of making the audience uncomfortable.

It feels like our culture is obsessed with couples, from their inceptions to their break-ups. Ask any unmarried woman my age if they have ever been harassed by a friend or family member about when they are going to get married, or have kids, or to go on a date with their friend Travis the Radioshack manager who has the same interest in movies as you. Go on any Tumblr tag related to Taylor Swift right now if you don't believe us. We'll wait. To take the notion that you must be in a couple or die, that there is no in between stage, that monogamy is the only way to be and that to be without a mate is unnatural, these are interesting concepts. If no one has similarities, love has no chance to excel and be accepted. DOWER. The significance of this metaphor is not lost on us, but it's still very, very cynical. The movie begins strongly enough, but the second half is where it starts to get a little lost. Visually, Lanthimos knows how to create a camera shot, but a pretty picture cannot make up for gratuitous shots of dead animals, even in the name of symbolism. It appears that Lanthimos gets off on making his audience uncomfortable, like he feels we cannot fully appreciate his art unless we have the urge to walk out of the theater, or vomit all over it. Pretentious? Absolutely, and though BigJ disliked the film, I honestly don't mind it. It is bizarre in ways both good and bad, though it's clearly an expression of one vapid director's twisted sense of the contempt he feels about the world and the world of love and the world of human connection. This may be an original idea and a technically well shot film, but the general plot is not something that never grabbed BigJ in the way he had hoped. Maybe I am just more skeptical than he is (read: I KNOW I am more skeptical than he is), but I understood most of what it was trying to say after thinking about it for a while. BigJ feels as if "The Lobster" only serves to perpetuate an already bleak world view. We both agree, however, we'd never watch it again and even have trouble recommending it.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 4/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Entourage"


  1. Excellent review! I couldn't agree with you more.

    1. Thank you! Do you tend to side with BigJ or me, did you enjoy it or dislike it?