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If you want a weird indie film above romance, this one is for you. It features a single man living in a world where you can be arrested for being single, and have 45 days at a location to find someone, or else you become an animal. Which, of course, leads to many either accepting their fate or drastically trying to escape it in both logical and frightening ways.
Trigger Warning(s): Suicide Attempt, Gun Violence, Blood, and Skinned Animals
Characters & Story (with Commentary)
In the world of The Lobster whether young or old, divorced, widowed, or even gay, you are required to have a partner. Why exactly? Who knows! But if you are an adult, and caught by police, as a single person, you can be arrested. Leading to the story of David (Colin Farrell). Our lead David is a normal man, he once had a wife but she is gone, and now it is just him and his brother, a dog.
Now, if you are wondering why a human’s brother is a dog, well it is because of the punishment for being single and being caught. In David’s world, you can either voluntarily, or by force, be taken somewhere, like a hotel, in which it is expected that within 45 days you’ll find someone. Otherwise, you will be stripped of your skin and organs and made into an animal of your choice. Of which David’s brother chose a dog.
So, what are David’s chances? Well, in comparison to a barely out of high school girl with a constantly bleeding nose (Jessica Barden) and David’s friends, the man with the lisp (John C. Reilly) and the man with the limp (Ben Whishaw), you’d think he’d be quite the catch. Yet, he struggles. That is, until he finds what is a woman who is nearsighted (Rachel Weisz) like him. But even with finding the possible love of his life comes difficulties, for there is so much against them.
Farrell and Weisz Have Good Chemistry: Up until Weisz’s character was introduced on screen, she was but a voice over. Also, until she was introduced, I felt this 2-hour movie was aimless. Granted, things happened, people died, and David even compromised himself to avoid the 45-day limit, but there was this constant dread of the film not being over yet. But then Weisz appeared and the voice we were familiar with was given a body and while the awkwardness of the movie didn’t end, at the very least we went from an almost off-putting awkwardness to something which can be considered cute.
Nothing Is Really Explained: While I can wrap my head around the concept of their world having it where people have to have a partner, when it comes to the 45-day restriction and making people into animals, I begin to squint. Then add on people can be arrested and in the place they are taken to they can’t masturbate, men sometimes have their hands strapped behind their back, and the maids will tease the men until they get erections, and then I get confused to the point where answers are required.
Which the movie provides not one. Heck, even in terms of the resistance movement lead by Léa Seydoux’s character, there is no explanation why they have similar, if not more, limiting rules than the hotel. Much less the background for any of the rules they established or the world did. Something which makes sense for likely they are all used to it, but for the viewer it just leaves you with this incredibly awkward, in damn near every way, film which doesn’t seem like it really wants you to connect with it unless you can directly relate to the characters.
On The Fence
So Awkward It’s Comical: If you are someone who likes awkward comedy, where someone says or does something so stupid, or just so weird, your reaction is to laugh, this film might be for you. For between David, the limp, and the lisp, those three are so awkward that becomes quite clear why they all ended up in that hotel. But, with the awkwardness comes some dry humor which may either go over your head or you may not find funny. In generally, if you are the type who goes to a New York theater and laughs throughout most indie pictures, you’ll find this funny. If you, however, look around, like I do, and wonder if something is in the popcorn, then all you may see is a bunch of socially maladjusted people and actors who perform in an almost monotone and nearly lifeless way.
Final Thought(s): TV Viewing
What The Lobster succeeds in with being an awkward romance, with a quite strange twist to it, leads to what could be considered its downfall. For while the strangeness of mandatory partners, and the punishments which come with not obeying this order, are interesting, and surely a parody, there comes a point where it seems to dig itself into a niche. A niche in which it could easily alienate someone who likes more expressive characters and not have to wait until ¾ of the movie is over to get to the main romance.
But if you can get past the almost monotone speaking and middle school awkwardness of everyone, then time can honestly fly by. For David can be likable and between him introducing us to his world, him trying to adapt to this psychotic lady so he won’t be alone, and then the final part of the film in which he meets Weisz’s character, I found myself enjoying it. Hence the TV Viewing label for while I don’t think I could manage to watch this in a theater and not get restless, being able to pause and walk away, and then come back later, made this movie manageable.