In the modern day, we are constantly panicking about how we will complete our “journey” – and by that I mean, will we die alone or with someone holding our hand. Yes, “Love is a Battlefield” is a truer statement than ever these days, and that continuous struggle is perfectly represented in the new film The Lobster, starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz. And if by this description you are assuming this is some sort of throw away romantic comedy – goodness gracious, you got a whole thing coming for you.
Set in an alternative reality, The Lobster throws us into the life of David (Colin Farrell), a man who has just been recently dumped by his wife. In this act, he is sent to a far off hotel, one that seems incredibly fancy, yet harbors a sort of depressing nature within. In David’s world, if you are single, you have 45 days to find a new mate or you will be turned into the animal of your choice. Why is this the case? The simple truth is that the film never explains, but we as the audience are supposed to accept this – and with the help of the incredible team behind this movie (including director Yorgos Lanthimos) that magic trick is accomplished.
Throughout The Lobster, we meet a collection of truly odd individuals, all of whom have their flaws worn on their sleeves. Of course there is David, who represents the beer belly quiet fellows of the world, while Limping Man (Ben Whishaw) is the “young fighter” type, who will do just about anything to survive his animal transformation – even force a nosebleed to impress a mate. There is also Lisping Man (John C. Reilly), an individual that seems to hold back his inner Hulk quite often.
As for the ladies, both Lea Sedoux’s Loner Leader and Rachel Weisz’s Short Sighted Woman are incredibly strong, smart, and focused in their goals, and seem at times to be very similar in their characteristics. But when the film comes towards its conclusion, it is easy to see that one is willing to break from her life choices for a chance at happiness, while the other wants to continue her control over those that she, when you really think about it, “loves”. All of these characters are brought brilliantly to life by their cast, and deserve to be rewarded come awards season.
The reason why there are quotes around love, is that in some aspects, The Lobster likes to make it seem like a dirty word. Yes, the object in the film’s society is to find a suitable mate, but that doesn’t exactly result in ultimate, natural affection. This is a world more focused on the dog-eat-dog competition of romance, rather than the actual discovery of love itself. Couples are set up because of single mutual connections, children are forced upon them, and even those that are deemed heartless are smushed together with those that actually want legitimate love in their life. It is a battle much more intense than any that The Hunger Games tried to showcase.
These struggles are set amidst some of the most bleak and yet beautiful shots, composed by cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis. The wasteland of this alternative world leaves us to feel every cut, smack and bruise, which ultimately becomes a beautiful tribute to director Stanley Kubrick’s iconic visuals (specifically that of The Shining.) Bakatakis grasps this world better than anyone, and makes even the most simple of shots come off absolutely exquisite.
Sitting in that risky spot where you could either truly adore it, or absolutely hate it, The Lobster makes a point to rattle itself through you, and make you as uncomfortable as possible. But when you are the cinematic lovechild of a Cronenberg film and something that Terry Gilliam would have made in the 80’s (post Brazil), that sort of tossed up reaction makes a whole lotta sense. But much like the characters within this story, you can decide what kind of animal to be, and if you are the kind that is willing to take a leap with a film that might be outside your comfort zone, than you might have made (as Olivia Colman’s character says) an excellent choice.
*IMPORTANT WARNING: The Lobster also sets itself as a movie that is going to be a test of your own moral and stomach. Not to say this is the bloodiest film to ever exist (certainly no Saw) but if you aren’t a fan of seeing any sort of animal related violence, this might not be a good watch in your local cinema, and more for home viewing with a remote in hand and a blanket over your head.