director: Yorgos Lanthimos
writers: Yorgos Lanthimos & Efthymis Filippou
starring: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw and John C. Reilly
genre: Drama | Fantasy | Romance
released: 22 October 2015 (Australia & Greece), 13 May 2016 (USA)
The excess, triviality and rules that are in this romance was to many a sight to see, instead to me they were kind of pointless. As the dystopian reality it is set in couldn't ever feasibly exist or function on a daily basis for myself to buy into. Also when the main subject of "love" amongst so many other things in the film are presented in mysterious ways that half the time make no sense or are just put in place to make a point. It makes it then difficult to value, as it dosen't offer a true insight on how multifaceted love is, instead offers only the narrow viewpoint of the creator which is pretty much to take it or leave it.
In a dystopian future it is forbidden to be alone and not be a relationship with a partner. It is not only frowned upon in society but also punished. With standardized treatment for the population that is single and with the ultimate punishment being the transformation of a human into an animal if he or she can't manage to be in a relationship.
In this world we follow David (Colin Farrell) who just lost his wife and has to go through the staged treatment. At the treatment hotel he just goes with the flow and finds out if he's willing to go through the overall and sometimes brutal process of love or push back and rebel societal expectations.
I'm fully aware that by writing such reviews I attract more haters than faithful readers due to my opinionated and anti art film at times opinions. As it feels every time I end up having to defend myself as if I don't have a clue on cinema, art-house productions or any love for these kind of films. Additionally, this film is made by a filmmaker that is of the same ethnicity as myself and instead of me promoting his work I'm actually trashing it. This wont' bode well with my kin I image, but if your to criticize anyone it should also be with your own.
Moving on to the actual film, 'The Lobster's' biggest issue is that it creates a world with certain meanings, values and a skewed organizational structure that don't meld together to make a functioning society. This naturally could be seen as the most irrelevant of critiques and that I'm not paying attention to the more important of points which is the filmmakers commentary on romance. But the last thing I want when I see a film such as 'Soylent Green', 'Logan's Run' or 'THX 1138' is to experience a reality that doesn't seem likely that it could exist. As I need to believe it is highly possible that it could, either due to a past event or because the society rules at the given point makes sense to them. Otherwise it makes it difficult to move forward with the film itself and the key issues it wants to present. So when 'The Lobster's' society mandates to always be in a relationship and to find ways to bond and be loving to a certain extent. It makes no apparent sense why their would be people who are evil and sinister to exist in such a world and for people to react with monotone expressions within certain situations. Great examples are when the lead character David's dog dies, to when he kicks a girl in the leg and her parents barely flinch and also with the weird manner people converse in this world. Which is straight to the point, with no subtext or mindless chit chat. It just is infuriating and feels like a world robotic to the point of numbness.
Then there is the metaphor/allegory's in the film just for the sake of. This is the classic thing art films love doing, in addition to having extremities of any nature without good reason. May that be sex, violence or improper social behavior or a lack of sensibility to the narrative and characters. Here the society the film showcases punishes individuals who choose to be loners or who fail to fall in love and automatically punishes them by turning them into animals.. Why this is the chosen punishment is a very good question, possibly has some underlying significance to it, but it just seems like an action of a society that is more "made up", then an a society that is authoritarian, fiscal and fixated to maintain specific social norms.
Moreover, I couldn't get past the simplicity in the romance the characters get involved in. Naturally, I understand for the films sake this is because its a dystopian future. But its idea is that society has pressured people to think in that certain way and only. Which is kind of baffling as society doesn't work only in that manner to like or not like a person for a certain attribute. In general romance and relationships have many factors that play a vital part for two people to come together in the first place. From socioeconomic, sexual, common interests, life experiences and so on and so worth. Nevertheless, while the topic is in my view not complex enough and the antithesis of what I perceive to be romance in the 21st century. To some this will be a great otherworldly view on how our society might turn into as to just procreate the species for one reason or another.
Additionally, the filmmaking itself isn't bad at all and I must say Lanthimos can get the type of performances he requires to make his films work. From his odd examination of child upbringing in his film 'Dogtooth' with adults acting like uneducated children and here with his interpretation of possible modern romance. He also makes beautiful films to the eye and the tone he wants to unleash on the audience such as with 'Lobster' of despair and loneliness. That are easily received by the audience. Its just that the way those emotions, direction and performances play out, aren't on par with the overall underlying theme that he is poised to present along with his narrative.
As interesting as the minutia of awkward romance under societal pressure may be and the execution of such film to be so well made. It's weirdness, concept and stark viewpoints were for me too much to take and not good enough to just sit back be awed by it.