Good ole Colin Farrell. Has he ever turned in a bad performance? Don’t say DAREDEVIL because he was a freakin’ gem in that film. This guy has a resume that speaks for itself and is probably one of the best actors around. Plus his Irish accent is enough to get even a flaming heterosexual like myself to get all hot and bothered. But never mind that, he seems to have a fun knack of being a part of dark comedies, doesn’t he? IN BRUGES and SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS, now this. Well, a dark and offbeat comedy starring Farrell is reason enough to get my ass in the seat, even if I wasn’t too clear on the story. I knew he played a character whose wife left him and now he’s under pressure to get a new wife, or else he’ll be turned into a lobster? Yeah, I got weirded out, but that was part of the appeal.
This is my honest opinion of: THE LOBSTER
David (Colin Farrell) lives in an alternate reality where men and women aren’t allowed to be single. If you are single, you go to this hotel where you have forty-five days to find a mate or you’ll be turned into an animal of your choice and released into the wild. In order to gain more time to find a mate, you go hunting in the woods to tranquilize “the loners,” a group of people who reject the system, and bring them in to the staff. David does eventually find a mate that he will settle for, a rather heartless woman (Angeliki Papoulia) but will only be able to if he lies about having certain traits in his character. However, his ruse is quickly unveiled and in order to prevent being turned into an animal, he escapes the hotel and eventually find refuge with the loners, who reveal that their rule is that there are no couples. This is made particularly conflicting when he meets a woman who is short-sighted (Rachel Weisz) and the two begin to fall in love.
If you’re looking for an offbeat comedy, then look no further. This movie is really good.
First of all, there is so much that isn’t shown in this movie. The first thing you’d think, “How do they turn people into animals.” If you’re hoping to see the machine that might do it, the movie never shows you how it happens. Why only forty-five days? Why is anything like this? Because fuck you, accept this alternate reality! I love when movies do this sort of thing because far too often, people have to have their movies grounded in reality. It’s a challenge to flip your perception of reality upside down, kind of like getting engulfed in a new culture… which, now that I’m thinking about it, is exactly what’s happening. Nothing’s really shown, nothing’s really explained, it’s just watching a dude traverse the world that’s being established and I was hooked.
I think I remember briefly skimming a review that detailed how this movie highlights the fears of modern dating. I’ll probably read the review in its entirety to compare notes, but I do want to say that this film does feel like a satire of dating websites. Everyone speaks in a monotoned voice. Even when in pain, there’s no shouting, screaming, or even real emoting. Even the raised volume of a persons voice is pretty rare. It reminds me of typing without emojis. While you can get a general sense of how a person is emoting the sentence being said, it’s not actually seeing the emotion. They find mates by only finding one single character trait they both share, like being short-sighted, or constant nose-bleeds. Kind of like browsing a profile, a person looks for similar interests instead of getting to know them the old fashioned way; talking, which they don’t really do. When they do talk, its pretty specific. When women talk to David, they’re pretty straight-forward in their speech, talking about their interests and possible fun-facts about them, instead of anything meaningful. But when talking to his “friends,” they’ll talk about their lies, their intentions, it’s a different dynamic, not unlike talking to your close friends. This is obviously just my personal interpretation of what the movie is symbolic of, but I would love to know someone else’s and have fun comparing and contrasting thoughts. Especially regarding that ending. Oh man, that ending is right up there with FIGHT CLUB, I’m tellin’ you.
Speaking of… well, speaking, their monotonous speech is such a primer for some of the more brutal comedic moments. For example, one of David’s friends that decides to come up with a fake character trait to get with a desirable mate that constantly has nose-bleeds, he demonstrates by rather brutally bashing his face onto an end-table. Another scene involves David being married to Heartless Woman who savagely kicks his dog to death and casually explains to David what she did. I know it simply sounds unpleasant, but hey, dark comedies. They’re like that.
The one real downside to the story is that it is kind of slow. I feel like the movie does take a lot of time to show us the world its created and the atmosphere of the movie that it does drag on for a bit. Maybe not the individual scenes, but the accumulation of all the scenes that drag adds up to feeling the length of the film toward the end. Its probably closer to nitpick since the movie does hold up by being so intriguing.
Also, now that I think about it there’s this too: the story shows that the loners can move around, like to the City where the couples live in freedom to do whatever they want. So, if they can move, why do they continue to camp out near the hotel, that literally schedules hunting time to bag and tag loners? Wouldn’t it be beneficial to, you know, relocate far away from there? Like… way far? I think I remember a description of the story saying that the loners are rebelling against the hotel, but all it seems like they do is have someone on the inside steal for them, bringing clothes, food, toiletries, etc. Hardly the stuff of Rebel Alliances against Galactic Empires.
I really like this movie. It had a few unexplained elements that kind of drag it down, but the weirdness that this world is marinated in is so fascinating and insane that I can’t help but be drawn into it. The best part of the movie is the impression it leaves and the burning desire to talk about it and interpret the story. I think it’s well worth the viewing, but unless you’re ready to sucked into a quirky alternate reality, it might be hard to get through it. Otherwise, highly recommended.
My honest rating for THE LOBSTER: a strong 4/5