To say THE LOBSTER is a weird movie is an understatement. To say it’s a bad movie is going too far. To say it’s unfunny is untrue.
I could eat lobster for just about any meal. By itself or with eggs for breakfast. On a roll or in soup for lunch. On its own or part of a seafood feast, possibly with some “turf” tossed in with the “surf”, sounds incredible. It’s not an extremely versatile food, but it’s delicious and fits my taste (though not always my wallet).
The film of the same name has quite the opposite situation.
I would have to be in the right mood and a certain frame of mind to see THE LOBSTER again. It certainly won’t be in theaters, and I will have to really consider the audience if / when I view it at home. It’s not a movie I would recommend to everyone, because quite frankly it’s weird enough that a lot of people probably won’t enjoy it.
But I did.
Maybe not the entirety of it, but there were quite a few scenes in THE LOBSTER that I enjoyed, because they were well crafted, well written, and well performed by the actors. String a lot of weird scenes together and it starts to become less endearing.
The film’s plot centers around Colin Farrell going to a resort for people of a certain age who have newly become single (either due to divorce or their partner’s death). They have 45 days to find a new partner from the other guests, or else they are given a new lease in life as a different animal species of their choice, into which the resort transforms them. They can extend their stay to search for a partner through tranquilizing people who live in the nearby woods, getting an additional day for each person they tranq during the daily hunts. But in this society, people are deemed compatible if they have some sort of similarity, such as near-sightedness, a permanent limp, or a lisp.
The majority of dialogue in this film sounds like it was written by someone who has a disorder that limits or impacts their social interactions. If the intent was to have awkward interactions across the board, then writer / director Yorgos Lanthimos succeeded. And while that didn’t hurt the chemistry Colin Farrell’s character had with Rachel Weisz, it did make all the other interactions between just about every other combination of characters seem very shallow. Again, perhaps Lanthimos can chalk that up as a success, but if that’s the case, then this is a very bleak society he’s painting.
Lea Seydoux does a standout job with her performance as the leader of folks who live in the woods. That group has formed a community with a bizarre set of rules of their own, the background logic to those rules I’d be interested in seeing developed as part of the film, but she pulls off the character in a very natural way.
And that’s a big part of what this film lacks, is the reasoning behind the way society has reached this point. Whether it’s the woodspeople, resort guests, or the guards in The City checking the paperwork of individuals out in public without their significant others, the movie doesn’t give us much of anything as a frame of reference for how these rules and cultural norms got to be this way. The history of science fiction and fantasy films have shown that viewers are willing to suspend disbelief and put themselves into a certain mindset to fit just about anything you throw at them, provided you help guide them there. THE LOBSTER just places you in the cage and guides you along.
If it weren’t for such an intense and cringe-worthy ending to the film, which most viewers have indicated they watched peeking through their fingers (despite it not reaching a graphic nature that would warrant it), viewers might take the otherwise quirky film and take it for a mildly amusing film. Had the ending been different (or at least presented differently) or more background been given, viewer scores across the board would be higher.
My Rating: 60 out of 100