Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Reel Snippet – The Lobster


Synopsis: In a dystopian world where marriage and companionship are required by law, David (Colin Farrell) is shipped off to a special hotel for single people after his wife leaves him for another man. His stay at the hotel comes with a condition for all of its tenants: find a soulmate in forty-five days or get turned into an animal and released into the wild. Pairings seem to be determine by matching defining character traits and things like masturbation are punished violently to encourage people to get together. David escapes the hotel and joins a group of “loners” in the forest. At first he enjoys the freedom, but soon discovers that their leader (Léa Seydoux) enforces abstinence and the single lifestyle with as much brutality as the hotel enforces cohabitation. This leaves David with a bit of a dilemma as he and a woman who’s also short-sighted (Rachel Weisz) slowly begin to fall in love and are frantically trying to figure out ways to keep their relationship secret and safe.

Review: The Lobster is a movie designed to make you feel uncomfortable and it succeeds… way too well. Watching this movie was an absolutely unpleasant experience. It feels like one of those European comedies that get a lot of laughs overseas, but just depresses people in the States. It reminds me a lot of In Bruges, which also starred Colin Farrell and had a blend of comedy and darkness, except I liked In Bruges. Part of the problem is that unlike that film, laughs in The Lobster are few and far between and the movie goes beyond simple darkness to being just relentlessly and needlessly cruel.

It seems like this film is trying to make some grand commentary to justify the bleakness it delivers. But here’s the deal: I don’t get it. It was not made clear in the viewing itself exactly on what the film was making comment. I had to do some research to find out that the whole point was a judgement on the shallowness of online dating culture being based on similar interests. Fair enough, but explain how the cold-blooded murder of an innocent animal furthers that point? Or the implication that when David had been killing rabbits as a token for his new lover, he was killing former hotel guests? Or listening to the screams of a woman who botched her own suicide attempt for a good solid minute or more? There may have been some potential here, but it goes unfulfilled and in the end all the film does is illustrate what a horrible world this is. What’s the point of our protagonists succeeding at anything when it seems like they have no escape from the unbearably psychopathic nature of the world they live in?

On reflection, I can appreciate what The Lobster was going for and some of the metaphors it put forth. But I wouldn’t sit through it again and I’m not even glad I saw it this one time. It’s not funny enough to justify the cruelty and the characters is too disconnected and cold to allow me to care. The ending is what really clinches it, dropping the audience off on an ambiguous note that sits between two horrible outcomes. Unlike Boyhood’s ambiguous choice ending, I don’t care to speculate on what the final outcome is in this story. Sorry, but I am not with the critics on this one. Thumbs way down from Fish and Cherries.

Fun Tidbit: There’s a lot of buzz going around about this being the director Yorgos Lanthimos’ first English language film. This is technically not true — while it’s his first feature length film in English, he actually directed a short film called Necktie, which was featured in the short film anthology Venezia 70: Future Reloaded.

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