The Lobster

2016 black comedy

Rating: 16/20

Plot: David is taken to a camp filled with other single people where he must meet his soul mate in 45 days or be transformed into an animal and released into the world. It's a struggle.

This is from Dogtooth director Giorgos Lanthimos, and if you've seen that, you know exactly what to expect. The appeal for me is the weirdness of the world being created is approached so casually. You just have to go with the flow because nothing the characters say or do or nothing in the film's style suggests that anything you're seeing isn't completely natural. Like Dogtooth, the pace of this is very different from what people used to Hollywood movies might expect. Its shocks come quietly or nonchalantly, almost like a mischievous kid hiding behind a doorway and half-murmuring a "Boo" in the most deadpan way imaginable. A lot of the humor works because it doesn't seem like any of the actors know how to deliver their lines and therefore just end up saying them. Colin Farrell plays a sort of hopeless everyman so well that you're almost convinced the guy's the biggest loser in the world. I laughed (especially at a line about blood and biscuits and a post-masturbation toaster punishment), but it was always with a feeling of unease.

As with Dogtooth and Alps, this stubbornly refuses to answer all of your questions or even really fill you in on what it's trying to say. It seems to be a twisted look at relationships, the expectations we have for those we're in relationships with, and the expectations society places on people in regards to relationships, but I'd have to see it again to figure out just what the animal/people connection has to do with anything or what the hell was going on at the end of the movie.

Anyway, you artsy-fartsy types who loved Dogtooth and happen to be in the mood for a romantic comedy will likely find a lot to love here. Somewhere, I saw this described as a cross between Luis Bunuel and Charlie Kaufman, and that makes perfect sense to me. I'd credit the person who came up with that, but I'm far too lazy to look it up.


Josh said...

I just finished this one. I remember "getting" Dogtooth a whole lot more after watching it. This one kept me guessing and wondering and overthinking. Probably so much so that I may have lost the enjoyment of watching it. It felt like a test at one point. John C. Riley and Ashley Jensen were welcomed sights.

Like Dogtooth, this movie was trying to say something about free will and living life with as little regard to societal expectations as possible. The Lobster spoke a lot about sacrifice. What we are willing to give up in order to get what we think will make us happy (or what society tells us we need to be happy).

Like I said, it left me perplexed. I didn't understand the human-to-animal connection at all. I didn't understand the three different societies (the hotel, the runaways, the city-dwellers). So, I have to be a bit more judgmental on something that makes me feel stupid.

Shane said...

Yeah, I don't think you want to OVERTHINK this guy's movies. Just kind of understand the rules of whatever world he's creating as quickly as possible and then go with the flow.

I think you hit the nail on the head with this being about "societal expectations" because I think that's exactly what it's about. What's expected with love, relationships, masturbation. There's a clash sometimes between what passion tells us to do and how society tells us that things should be progressing. I actually think the animal thing is ironic.

Whenever a movie makes me feel stupid, I rate it more highly so that people will think I understood and and be tricked into thinking I'm smarter than I am. That's the right move here, Josh.