Weird Film Season Part 2; The Lobster

Sorry about the delay on this post – I had a big glitch with blogger and had to re-write it a few times!
Anyway.So. I went to see this film. I went in to the cinema and all that, got my popcorn as you do, ate it during the trailers as you do and watched the film. When the lights went up and I came out I stood still for a moment like “did I enjoy that!?” I still haven’t figured it out. Did I enjoy it? I have no idea. Here are some other thoughts I had.

The Lobster is set in some kind of dystopian society where you must be in a couple at all times, and in the event of a breakup you are sent to a hotel resort to find a new partner within 45 days or else you are turned into an animal of your choosing. The premise of the film is so loopy that upon hearing it you can’t help but say to yourself “well, I need to see this.” The opening scene involves our main character asking his partner, who we can assume has cheated on him, if the man she slept with has glasses or contact lenses.
Love, in this universe, is a warped creature. We spend time watching a man with a limp wonder if what he saw was a stumble, or someone else with a limp. He breaks his nose and causes it to bleed in order to get closer to a girl who suffers from regular nosebleeds. The characters all speak as if they are high school children who have been forced to read aloud in a classroom; they want to add a bit of emotion to the words but fear ridicule from their peers. We watch the protagonist lie to himself and allow a heartless woman to intentionally choke on an olive in order to prove that he is also heartless and that they are a suitable match. It doesn’t work, unlike limping man and nosebleed girl who are content to build a house on their lie. Love is built on shallow foundations such as “we both play guitar!” Not saying real life isn’t often very similar to this, but to suggest that someone would cheat on you just because the other person also wears glasses and therefore must be suited, and not because of deeper emotional problems, is a scary premise.

The film is a dark comedy, with moments of utter brutality. If you’ve heard me talk about black mirror, which any modern dystopian fiction is likely to be compared to, you’ll know I feel like the series is “like real life but with the brutality setting turned up to 11.” The world of The Lobster has the brutality turned up to about 20. Often times I didn’t know if I was laughing because I felt awkward, upset, didn’t know how to feel or something was genuinely funny. For example, one scene had the maid come in and rub her ass in circles on the main characters crotch until he gets hard, then she tells him it was quicker than yesterday and leaves. Another scene saw a character punished for masturbating by having his hand burned in a toaster. I made awkward noises which sounded something similar to laughter. 
There are some actually funny moments in the film such as the announcement of a new couple at the hotel. “We wish you the best of luck, and if there are any arguments that you cannot resolve amongst yourselves you will be issued with a child. We find that usually does the trick.” I laughed out loud at the dry humour of that notion. There are also moments of genuine beauty and humour in the camerawork. The characters leave the initial hotel setting, which many reviewers have said is the downward point for the film, and the setting provides some really beautiful camerawork. One scene has the main characters lying on the ground; the background is a vaseline focus blur of spring green woodland with the occasional strange animal roaming around aimlessly. It’s silly and gorgeous.

A lot of people will be quick to suggest that the film is a critique of modern online dating where you see someone, you find one shallow mutual thing between you and from there you build a relationship that supposedly works. I don’t really think the film is about that, I feel like it’s more a critique on forcing things rather than letting them develop. I feel like it pokes fun at people who feel the need to be in a relationship at all times, or militantly without one, and suggests that without balance we do extreme and crazy things for the sake of trying to make something happen. I keep trying to articulate something deeper about this film, even though I kind of don’t think there is anything deeper there. For example, we’re never told why this twisted world is as such and I’m okay with that. This is a story for the sake of telling a story about something strange that happened and I always think that’s fine. Whether I actually enjoyed it or not, well, I’m still debating that, but I did enjoy watching it.

Please comment with which animal you’d like to be turned into if you failed to find a partner within 45 days.

Do not watch this film if you cannot stomach violence towards animals; there is a very graphic scene with an animal. If you are not a fan of violence in general this film would be a bad idea. Just a gentle warning for tender hearts.

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