by Mark Woodhouse
Rated M. Starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos.
If single people don’t fall in love with someone within 45 days, they get turned into an animal.
This is the premise of The Lobster.
In a weird version of a near dystopian future, someone somewhere decided this would be a good idea, and no one seemed to object. Now people are rounded up and taken to the Hotel, and the only way they will leave is with a partner (and possibly a random child, for children are the best way to solve arguments). They can earn extra days as humans by hunting down ‘Loners’, renegade single people living in the woods.
David (Farrell) finds himself in the Hotel with his dog (his brother who didn’t make it – David would be a lobster if he doesn’t make it). Short Sighted Woman – yes – (Weisz) is a Loner. The stage is set for a black/romantic/absurdist comedy.
As a film, it’s fairly well made. It’s has a very cold-and-wet feel to it, and makes interesting use of slow motion at times. The plot is almost too slow in places, but there’s some carefully-placed vulgarity and violence that shocks you awake because of its unexpectedness.
Which leads me to say: Don’t expect normal social interaction here. But that’s kind of the point, because The Lobster is a biting (pincing?) critique of the world of dating, relationships, and singleness. For some, there are dire consequences for being single. For others, there are dire consequences for finding a partner.
Most interesting to me was the purpose for which characters in The Lobster pursue relationships; it’s a very unbiblical picture of relationships. They are very shallow, forced by social pressure. They are calculated and heartless. They are based solely on common ailments, as though a shared propensity to nosebleeds is a sound basis on which to build a marriage. These are not real relationships, and this is not real love.
Of course, the film takes its parody to the extreme. But it definitely is probing steadily into areas of cultural and personal pain and ignorance and joy. It forces you to ask how you think of relationships. It allows you to ask what the Bible thinks of relationships.
The Lobster is as bizarre as you think it’s going to be. Somewhat humourous, there’s a lot to provoke debate and reflection. Three-and-a-half stars.
The Lobster releases in the UK on Friday 16th October, and in Australia on Thursday 22nd October.