Lobster is a film which aspires to be original, extraordinary and state-of-the-art. Yorgos Lanthimos, a Greek director, conjures up an unrealistic story which sheds light on the very realistic problems of the modern society.
This movie won a Jury prize at the Cannes festival and was celebrated by critics all around the world. If you ever get an assignment to write a review on it, here are some helpful tips which will guide you through the process.
A Bit About the Premise
The premise of the film is truly fascinating. The protagonist finds himself in a grim, but pristine hotel where he has 45 days to find a partner. Otherwise, he will be turned into an animal.
This is a fantastic idea for a movie based on a bunch of reasons. Firstly, it is extremely creative, which should make the audience sick of the same old stories quite satisfied. Secondly, it is satirical as the movie criticizes the modern obsession with romantic relationships. Even though nowadays it is not as prevalent as just 10 years ago, it is still not uncommon to hear people sympathize with the loners and strive to form a couple.
Thirdly, it is science fiction, as for now it is not yet possible to transform humans into animals. It is always interesting to imagine new developments and how they could possibly change the world.
A Couple Words About the Protagonist
The main character in the movie is David played by Colin Farrell. David is portrayed as a bit of a morose and phlegmatic loser. He just had his wife cheat on him and their 11 years marriage fall apart. So, because of this defect, he has to go to a hotel and find another partner, or turn into an animal.
David is a surprisingly endearing character despite his external aloofness. He accepts his fate without giving it a second thought. When he is asked what animal he would like to become, he mentions lobster in such a mundane manner, as if he was choosing what to have for breakfast instead. His reasoning behind the choice is also worth mentioning. David wants to metamorphose into this crustacean because they live longer, are sexually active and, well, he does like the sea.
Even his appearance is propping up the ridiculous nature of the character. David is somewhat chubby and wears a funny moustache. He remains calm even at the gunpoint and reports the most tragic events in such a matter-of-fact tone that it is impossible not to have a guilty laugh. For this reason, it is sometimes hard to become emotionally invested in his fate, but given that the movie positions itself as a black comedy, rather than a romantic drama, it is not a huge drawback upon the whole.
A Comment on the Movie Aesthetics
Lobster can be definitely described as strange and authentic. At the very beginning the setting of a modern and menacing hotel sends eerie vibes to the audience. That is perhaps one of the reasons why the film is sometimes referred to as horror (consider the common horror genre trope of a haunted house).
There are no ghosts in the hotel, however. Those are not needed, when humans who reside there hardly show any signs of their nature. They are very careful and suspicious, as their time is limited, and if they don’t act fast, they won’t survive. Even though the hotel dwellers are not comfortable with the status quo, nobody challenges it. Just like David, everybody else simply accepts their situation and focuses on doing their best to benefit from the existing system rather than subverting it.
The mutilations and even death are ordinary occurrences in those people’s lives. When a woman falls from the stares, nobody is shocked, a bit dismayed at the most. The atmosphere is very strict and uncompromising, but people within it are lax and somewhat careless. They have long abandoned their emotions, because in order to survive in this crazy game, they could not trust their heart. People’s main goal was to trick the system into thinking that they found their soul mate… and do it fast.
First of all, the movie showcases the ridiculous nature of people’s obsession with finding a partner. Today there are many websites out there which intend to couple you with a person most appropriate for you. They use questionnaires and algorithms to determine the degree of your compatibility.
However, just like in real life, it does not work all that well in Lobster. The hotel residents are supposed to pinpoint their distinguishing characteristic and look for a partner based on it. Quite often they resort to extreme measures to prove their match. For instance, John smashes his nose to connect with the Nosebleed Woman, while David fakes being a psychopath to partner with a Heartless Woman. If this is not a satire on how people pretend to be what they are not to impress a potential mate on a real-life date, then I do not know what else to say.
Secondly, the director mocks humans’ desire to stay single and independent. It is another extreme, which, like all extremes, proves ineffective. Outside of the hotel, there is a community of people living in the woods and denying any romantic relationships. Just like in the hotel, the punishments for disobedience are macabre and absurd. Today many would mock those in long-lasting relationships as ignorant and outdated, bragging about their autonomy. Lanthimos reveals the danger and absurdity of these polar visions.
Is It a Worthy Movie?
Well, the critical acclaim has been above average, and the viewers in their majority enjoyed it. Nonetheless, there are aspects which could potentially turn you off from liking this movie.
First of all, it is the stark difference between the first (hotel) and the second (forest) parts of the movie. I personally loved the beginning of the film. It presented a dystopian society which put people under control and surveillance and forced them into forming artificial relationships. The black humor undertones and the philosophical satire permeated the hotel events which both troubled and entertained me. The forest part, on the contrary, is much more romantic and somewhat mundane.
Secondly, let’s face it – Lobster is a very weird movie. It is art house, so if you are not used to this genre, it will be hard for you to be entertained by it. You might just end up questioning everything that is happening on the screen. It will prevent you from grasping the movie’s message. Therefore, Lobster is, definitely, not for a Hollywood lover, unless they are really open-minded and ready to absorb something out-of-ordinary.
Thirdly, the film’s characters are rather detached and not very relatable. Even David the protagonist very rarely shows some emotion, mostly holding the stiff upper lip. It was the director’s intention to construct characters so afraid to be punished that to be completely repressed in their own bodies. However, some viewers may find such lack of feeling and emotion deplorable. So, whether you decide to watch this movie or refrain from it, do not let those idiosyncrasies stunt you.
All in all, Lobster, although lacking some of the usual Hollywood excitement and overblown emotions, is a pretty decent philosophical film. Some of the characters may come off as lackluster and unrealistic, but the viewer should remember that all those distortions are intentional.
Lobster means to mock the society in which both loneliness and the utter commitment are sins. Therefore, I would definitely recommend this movie.