Lobster is on my list of favorite foods, but I doubt I would ever want to become one. Oscar-nominated Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (‘Dogtooth’) casts Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz and Lea Seydoux in a surreal parable about a future world where people are forced to couple up or be turned into animals. David (Colin Farrell) whose wife just left him, has been thrust into the dreaded single status. According to law he has 45 days to find a suitable mate or be turned into the animal of his choice. The animal David chooses, should he not succeed in finding a partner, is the lobster.
I will admit, this movie was weird. My husband found it too weird and wondered why the heck we went to see it. However, it was that very weirdness that made me absolutely love this film. I watch a lot of movies, and I particularly appreciate movies that don’t fit the usual predictable formulas, and I especially love movies that have something important to say. The Lobster is a commentary about the pressures our society puts on finding one’s soulmate.
I grew up in a culture that touted marriage as the preferred state. Single women, especially, were looked down upon and labeled spinsters. I guess I could be grateful that at least being single wasn’t illegal. Yet I somehow felt like a total failure for being unable to find the right and perfect partner.
In The Lobster, the right and perfect partner takes on a whole different meaning. It wasn’t just that each single person had to find a partner…that person had to have the same defining characteristic. In fact, except for David, none of the other characters had names. They were known for their specific physical trait. There was the man who limped, the woman who had constant nose bleeds and the man with a lisp. What were the odds of finding someone with those exact traits? The pressures were so great that one man deliberately smashed his nose so that he too would be a nose bleeder.
I wouldn’t call the film a comedy and yet I found it to be quite funny. It is told in a serious deadpan manner that kept me engaged throughout. The first part of the film is about this alternate society and its rules and logic and is filmed in the hotel where the singles are imprisoned. The second part of the film is in the surrounding forest where a ban of renegades called the Loners live. The Loners have rejected the society’s rules, and yet have rather strict rules of their own. Here coupledom is shunned. One has to remain alone and celibate or they are severely punished and even maimed. No form of intimacy is allowed. David escapes into the forest and joins these Loners and there ends up finding a woman (Rachel Weisz) he finds attractive. I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice it to say….it gets more interesting and even ‘weirder’, if that is possible.
If you like films that do not fit the normal formulaic and predictable patterns then you will love this film. I did!