It’s pretty rare you see a film who’s final scene makes you welcome and reject the worst possible outcome for a character you’ve come to despise and admire amongst a cast you can’t help but hate while pitying. If all this sounds a bit like a tiny exaggeration of our own existence, then welcome to The Lobster.
Disturbingly hilarious or painfully depressing and decidedly different. Decidedly different being one of those politely formal terms we use when describing something we can’t quite put our finger on, can’t quite resolve and don’t really know what it all means but there’s something unavoidable there. To say this film is effecting is another polite way of saying you might hate it, and if you hate it, blame the other guy, not me. My wife’s reaction was “my god that was painful and depressing”, mine was “never seen anything so hilariously disturbing”. We like the same movies, usually.
Plunged into a world at once familiar yet oblique, we watch as newly singled people have 45 days to find a new mate or be turned into the animal of their choice and set free. In the interim their dominant hand is shackled and belt buckle locked, casual sex is forbidden but the maid will arouse you until. . .nothing. You can hunt “Loners” with tranquilizer darts to extend your stay or fake surface compatibility with another detainee in order to gain access to a private yacht honeymoon where supplied children will solve any remaining discrepancies between you. If you’re determined toward rebellion and freedom you may escape and become one of the “Loners”, but the group dynamics among the “Loners” may seem again vaguely familiar and only slightly less depressing. Only slightly less because the leader of the “Loners” is considerably hotter then the leader of “The Hotel.” It’s just how we make decisions.
It is about how we make decisions and The Lobster peels away that thin shell of civility to reveal the tasty meat just beneath the surface, waiting for that melted butter of conformity to complete that piquant human delicacy we always call love. Until we call it distance, then estrangement, then loss, then the cycle of self abuse moves to another creature we think will save us, only to find yet another species we were not expecting. If my messy metaphors and silly similes make you cringe you’re probably better off skipping The Lobster, though you probably require this vision more then the guy two rows back groaning with delight and imagining his certain future of protandry in sequential hermaphroditism.
Yeah, it is that weird.