Most feature films — especially those released during the summer — are primarily designed to attract the largest number of viewers. This is generally accomplished through sophomoric humor, teeth-rattling explosions and thin plots.
That’s why when a movie like “The Lobster” comes along, it doesn’t just stand out but screams in panoramic letters that the norm will not be tolerated here. It’s not just a blip on the summer movie radar, but a mass that demands attention and respect.
How much you enjoy this diversion will be in direct proportion to how much disdain you have for the generally traditional movies that hit local theaters. Anyone who refuses to see anything outside the norm should select any of the other numerous options at the cineplex.
There is nothing safe about “The Lobster.”
Colin Farrell plays David, a newly divorced man who finds himself in a hotel in the woods that could be the sister property to the hotel in “The Shining.” He’s been sent to the facility to find his perfect match.
This place is no eHarmony. If a person doesn’t find a suitable match in 45 days, they are transformed into an animal of their choosing. The explanation is that it is a second chance to find a perfect mate. David has selected a lobster, as they live for 100 years and remain fertile all their lives. A friend points out they also get tossed into pots of boiling water and eaten.
Perfect isn’t defined by sexual or emotional connections. There must be some physical manifestation that pairs up the couple — in one case, as simple as matching nose bleeds.
There are three ways to leave the facility: with a perfect mate, as an animal or to escape in the woods where the Loners have created their own society. They don’t adhere to the necessity of finding a perfect match. They actually are just as militant when it comes to forbidding any social interaction between the Loners.
“The Lobster” starts with an uneasiness that is magnified by the music and the curt way Farrell plays the role. Both the soundtrack and the actor’s delivery are a mix of sharps and flats that work against any type of connection. The film regains a little more melodic tendencies once David finds a Loner (played by Rachel Weisz) who piques his emotional center.
Director/writer Yorgos Lanthimos skirts around a wealth of issues from monogamy to sodomy. At times he’s an advocate and other times the world he’s created shows a hatred for all of the key issues.
If you are looking for an instant message, then your efforts will be lost. Lanthimos never allows any key topic to come to a full conclusion, opting to divert the production to either a parallel or perpendicular subject. It’s all done as a way of enticing new thoughts about old topics.
Even accepted ideas are ignored for the sake of creating disingenuous events. People who can’t find mates are turned into animals, the majority of which never mate for life.
All of the swirling thoughts and ideas are presented in a cold and brutal manner from the lack of connection between couples to the violence shown toward the animals (presumably former humans left to wander the grounds after transformation). There are no moments to relax.
“The Lobster” is for those who are always complaining about the lack of diversity in films. In some ways, it crosses so many lines in filmmaking that it’s the kind of work that will become a favorite of film students who love to debate meanings so deep a spelunker couldn’t find them. In this case, it’s not the discovery but what is experienced on the journey that really matters.
This is a film that has to be judged by how it intertwines odd bits of thought and discord to create a monument to the mundane. It’s a movie that latches on to your entertainment soul with a complexity that can’t be dislodged, for better or worse.