Pinch Hitter: “The Lobster” Is Not Your Typical Bisque

That awkward moment when you’ll get turned into an animal if you don’t find true love within forty-five days.

There’s a lot of questions I have about the dystopian society showcased in The Lobster. These are questions that theoretically should have been in answered in the movie itself, although I think they thought it would be cute if things were left as vague as possible. Or perhaps it was an act of laziness.

Sometimes it seems like a movie can be quirky or bizarre just for the sake of being quirky or bizarre. I feel like The Lobster falls in that category. While it operates on an alluring premise – you get turned into an animal if you don’t find true love eventually and you are apparently forbidden to be a member of the film’s version of a normal world unless you have a partner – we just don’t get enough background information on this wacky society.

Add in the fact that you can tell almost from the beginning that there’s something terribly wrong, and you can’t help but wonder just what exactly this fictional world is all about. Why does everyone speak in such a stilted manner, almost like the actors are reading from cue cards? Colin Farrell, a wonderful actor who almost managed to singlehandedly save the second season of True Detective through sheer will, looks like he’s a college offensive lineman being forced to take a theater class.

Some might call this comedy; The Lobster has often been coined as a black comedy, after all. I just think it’s stupid. Nothing about the movie makes sense, and although there are a lot of technical aspects to appreciate, I would consider this to be something of an indie art piece that is more coherent than your typical Nicolas Winding Refn film only by default. Not by accomplishment.

The movie is like a rough draft for a potentially amazing film, only everybody decided to say fuck it and make whatever they wanted without any regard for the final product. Some might say this dystopian world’s background is irrelevant because there’s so much symbolism in the movie; the method in which you find your partner is through whether they are compatible with you and that usually entails sharing some kind of unique trait. That could range from something significant like having a limp to being nearsighted, or even something as superficial as liking berries.

Who is the Big Brother of this film? Colin Farrell’s character gets sent to a hotel where he must find true love within forty-five days or he’ll get turned into an animal of his choice (a lobster). He has an okay time, it seems, before he fakes being compatible with a psycho bitch. That doesn’t work out so he runs away and lives in the woods with a bunch of other loners. That’s where he meets Rachel Weisz’s character. They are both nearsighted, and therefore compatible.

This new group of loners is led by Léa Seydoux’s character and Seydoux explicitly forbids any type of relationship outside the boundaries of friendship. The penalties are harsh, as Colin and Rachel both find out, and the movie’s plot holes continue to grow and grow and grow as they struggle to find a way for both of them to be compatible, leading to the film’s climactic and frustrating ending.

Their struggle is the most ludicrous thing I’ve seen in theaters this year. Like I asked before, who is this society’s version of Big Brother? Why are they regulating people in this oddball fashion? And what is the deal with the speculations of how one must be compatible with another? What constitutes a valid shared trait? How technical can we get with this? Colin and Rachel are presumably both humans, which means they share a million things in common. Is that not enough?

Look, I get what The Lobster is trying to say. I really do. It’s a harsh lesson about our own world, a world where Tinder is a viable option to find someone and “Netflix and chill” is actually a thing. Okay, so we suck. And it’s clear our downfall in how we view relationships is similar to how the people in the movie do the same. Colin and Rachel are “compatible” and they do allegedly fall in love, but it’s from what we would consider a really terrible reason. Would you love someone just because they got random nosebleeds like you? Probably not.

It’s social commentary, but the way it’s delivered is truly disappointing. The Lobster shows us a world without reason. In many ways, that’s our world today, where Donald Trump is a serious contender for POTUS and where mass shootings happen around the world every single day. It’s a mad world.

Maybe The Lobster is onto something here. Maybe some things just can’t be explained and trying just doesn’t cut it. Whoa, what a turn of events! Is it possible The Lobster is a brilliant film after all!?

That’s on your hands. Watch it and see for yourself. What I can say for sure is that this is a movie that’s weird, occasionally slow, usually beautiful, and undoubtedly polarizing.

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