‘The Lobster’ reels you in with premise, but loses audience on plot
PHOTO BY A24 FILMS
Where is it playing?: The Palm
What's it rated?: R
What's it worth?: $ Streaming
What's it worth?: $ Nothing
Colin Farrell stars as David, a man who has just been dumped by his wife. To make matters worse, David lives in a society where single people have 45 days to find true love, or else they are turned into the animal of their choice and released into the woods. David is kept at the mysterious hotel while he searches for a new partner, and after several romantic misadventures, he decides to make a daring escape to abandon this world. He ultimately joins up with a rebel faction known as The Loners, a group founded on a complete rejection of romance. But once there David meets an enigmatic stranger (Rachel Weisz) who stirs up unexpected and strong feelings within him. (118 min.)
Editor’s note: This week’s edition of Split Screen was written by New Times Arts Editor Ryah Cooley and Calendar Editor Trever Dias.
Ryah: The premise of the dystopian film The Lobster is fascinating. Its portrayal of society’s treatment and blatant ostracizing of single people isn’t that different from reality, it’s just a little more structured and out in the open. Singles at the hotel are given more time to stay there and find a mate if they shoot and take down loners (people who refuse to conform to the ideals of coupledom and live in the forest). During a skit at the hotel, it’s shown that choking and dying on one’s food or getting raped only happens to single people. The film’s look felt both retro and timeless. The characters all shared the characteristic of being quiet and then blurting out awkward, often rude short lines to each other. To be honest, The Lobster screamed of a Wes Anderson film to me, but it was actually the first English language film written and directed by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos.
Trever: The premise is an interesting one, but for me there unfortunately isn’t really an interesting film to go along with it. Satirizing societal pressures to form conventional relationships may be a worthy cause, and could make for some compelling drama, but when I think about what the most compelling aspect of The Lobster is, I think about the premise. Once that has been established, the plot doesn’t seem to go anywhere that’s as interesting as where it started. The dialogue felt arbitrary at times, and while it was well-acted with Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz in leading roles, the characters for the most part were not that captivating, though I did like how one of the leads narrates the film before showing up in it later on.
Ryah: True, the plot was a bit haphazard. It is interesting that after escaping from the matchmaking hotel, David joins a colony of loners who have outlawed love, where he of course falls in love with a stranger because they’re both short-sighted, poking fun at the arbitrary qualities we look for in a partner and the idea that we care so much what other people do with their own private lives. The characters, I think by choice, are somewhat cold and awkward, so it’s hard to really find anyone to root for. There’s also a good amount of random violence and deaths that don’t necessarily further the plot. When the lovers’ bonding characteristic is forever altered in his lover, David is left with a choice to make. Does he change himself for love or turn into a lobster?
Trever: The coldness and awkwardness of the characters may have been part of the film’s critique of how people treat each other, but it did make it hard to care about any of them, which makes it difficult to care about the rest of the film, especially when so much of it did feel random. I think the fact that the group of loners imposed harsh rules against romantic involvement among its members, just as the film’s dystopian society imposed rules against being single, was an interesting choice, but whereas the latter is a clear critique of the conventions of dating culture, it’s not clear what is meant by the former. As far as I know, there isn’t much societal pressure for people to remain single for the rest of their lives.
Send comments to New Times Arts Editor Ryah Cooley at firstname.lastname@example.org.