Thursday, June 16, 2016
The Lobster features a bizarre dystopian world where being single is banned. The police are constantly vigilant in seeking single people to send to the hotel to be rehabilitated back into a relationship. given 45 days to fall in love or they will be turned into the animal of their choice. They have the opportunity to extend their stay by tranquilizing renegade loners on the run and bringing them back to the hotel. The rules are specific and the punishment for not following them proves to be surprisingly brutal. Some rules require attendance at awkward dances and viewing of pro-couple propaganda skits, showing how life as a single person is awful. Other rules ramp up the sexual desire without release to torture the residents into getting into a relationship. The only consequence we see for an infraction is when a man is forced to put his hand in a toaster and hold it there. It's only the beginning of the unexpectedly horrific aspects of the film.
Enter David. He arrives at the hotel with his brother, who went through the same program and was turned into a dog. After a while, he decides to lie as much as required to get an appropriate mate and leave, but it doesn't turn out exactly as he expected. I didn't like David through the first half of the movie because he was a sad sack person and didn't help a woman who literally told him she was going to commit suicide if she didn't find someone. He didn't have to date her, but maybe tell someone about it before it was too late. Everyone in the film finds one thing to have in common with their partner even if it's imagined. The idea that people can have different interests or more profound connections than being near-sighted or getting nosebleeds frequently is unheard of. I understand the lying because who wants to be turned into an animal? However, he really chose the wrong person. This woman is heartless and makes no apologies for it. She cleverly games the system by being the best at tranquilizing singles and keeps adding days to her stay. He pretends to be just as heartless, but regrets it when she commits a horrific and violent act to test his heartlessness.
When their relationship ends, David flees to the loners in the woods. Although they are on the outskirts of society and live in the wild, they also have their strict rules that have severe consequences. We only see the consequence of one relatively minor infraction and it's not pretty. Like the hotel, the loners have their required uniform. Unlike them, loners can stay as long as they want, take part in solitary activities, and dig their own grave since no else will do it for them. Their main rule is to never fall in love, but of course David falls in love with a woman who is also short-sighted. They build a relationship of adorable wordless communication in an effort to keep their relationship from the others. Both factions are incredibly toxic by setting rigid rules and take away choice from their members.
The Lobster is a hilarious black comedy that has some sharp things to say about our couple obsessed world. I laughed out loud many times, but the film turns a sharp corner into the very uncomfortable and disturbing a few times. It even borders into horror territory at times, especially a particularly tense scene at the very end of the film. The earnest way and flat way everyone speaks is the cherry on top of the absurdist sundae. The film adeptly changes tone when needed. The humor doesn't in any way lesson the horror.
My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins