Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz in The Lobster (A24 Films)
Cinema is often a mirror of society’s current anxieties, creating a filmmaking answer to the questions many of us ask. Is society being dumbed down? Idiocracy shows us an extremely dumbed down world. Will global warming destroy Earth? The Day After Tomorrow presents a possible worst-case scenario. What if I don’t fit neatly into society? Divergent presents an extreme case of the marginalization of outcasts. Is humanity less fertile now? Children of Men shows a potential world ripped apart by global infertility.
Hollywood has had a long love affair with a dystopian world where our fears are realized. The Lobster is the latest film to present its version of a dystopian society. Many of us who are/were single have asked ourselves: Will I be single forever? Is Mr. or Ms. Right out there somewhere? Will I be the old, crazy, single eccentric who scares the neighborhood children? The Lobster shows us, in a subtle sci-fi way, of what would happen if the government makes it illegal to be single.
In the muted emotional dystopian world of The Lobster, single people are taken to a “resort” where they have 45 days to find a mate or they will be turned into the animal of their choosing. A break-up is bad enough on its own. Imagine having the pressure of only having 45 days to find the person you have to spend the rest of your life with.
Colin Farrell, in quite possibly the least-glam role of his career, plays David, who has just been dumped by his wife for another man. At his intake session at the resort, he tells the employee that if he doesn’t find a mate, then he wishes to be turned into a lobster since he likes to swim and they can live a 100 years. While watching the film, I couldn’t help but think of “The Lobster” episode of “Friends” when Phoebe explains to Ross that Rachel is his lobster. Phoebe also explains that lobsters mate for life. I wonder if writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos watched that rerun lately and the seed of the screenplay was planted.
Anyways, while at the “resort,” David becomes friends with some of the other “guests” including a man with a limp (Ben Whishaw) and a man with a lisp (John C. Reilly). Hiding on the grounds of the resort is a group who call themselves the Loners and expressly forbid romance of any kind. Even the punishment for flirting is quite harsh. Along with sports, dining and dancing, one of the activities offered by the resort include a nightly, high-stakes paintball-type game where the guests hunt down the Loners for sport. Once David escapes the resort, he meets one of the Loners played by Rachel Weisz, and they soon fall in love. Falling in love can be dangerous enough, but in The Lobster, it can be downright deadly.
The Lobster asks a lot of questions, but doesn’t provide all of the answers. After watching this movie, I too had unanswered questions. I can’t decide how much I liked the film, but I can’t stop thinking about it either. Maybe that answers my question after all. I watch many movies and have forgotten about many of them shortly after. The Lobster might just be one of the most original, and unforgettable, movies of the year.
In theaters May 13
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