The Lobster is the kind of movie where you’ll ask yourself a question based on the premise. This question is: “If I was unable to find a partner for a relationship within a certain time frame, and was to be turned into an animal, what animal would I chose?” If you like being different, the movie suggests you don’t pick a dog. I suggest you find another movie.
This is not for a love of dogs, rather a void of it for the film. This movie is a “like it or hate it movie”, and I will explain why I both chose the latter and omitted the usual first choice for this particular phrase. This movie will either captivate you or annoy you. I was unable to attend SCSU’s Cinescope Organization’s screening, but I was able to verify this with my own test audience. We’re so used to abominably poor movies that this was seen as a welcome reprieve.
The general opinion, aside from some holdouts, started to shift downward as the movie progressed.
The Lobster is a film set in a dystopic future, in which persons who lose their partner or don’t have one at a certain young age, are gathered and brought to The Hotel. In this hotel, the ‘guests’ have 45 days to find a partner or be turned into an animal they designated upon entering. The name of the movie comes from the animal choice of the main character, the shortsighted David if he were not to find someone. The movie chronicles David’s arrival to and experiences in the hotel.
If you need somewhere to stay, The Hotel is a wondrous place of culture and refinement. Self-love is outright banned and punished with a hand forced into a bread toaster. Emotionless stage plays are put on to promote the benefits of having a partner, essentially a propaganda play. If you find a person, they must have similar traits or maladies. So, if you think you and a random other can just easily say you’re a couple, think again. Fakes are turned into a random animal immediately.
So with stakes like that, one would think that The Lobster would be up my alley: A ridiculous plot and built world that follows it. Those were my initial thoughts when I read the description of the movie on the campus calendar. What the viewer instead gets is a tale of the morose desperation of some characters and outright schizophrenic story-telling. The world of this movie is very competent at telling its own story; its a world of grays. However, the movie is not content with leaving the world alone to tell the story.
Along having the world of the film itself, The Lobster has a narrator that gives ancillary details about David and his environment; a nigh unnecessary amount of details. It got to the point that any time the sound died down, my demeanor soured because I knew the narrator was about to feed us with whatever minor bit of exposition it had to spare, alongside whatever they could say to pad out the runtime.
This was an annoyance, but a tolerable one. That was my opinion until the narrator committed a terrible sin; with the ruination of a plot point 10-15 minutes before it actually occurred. So, blame the narrator if you care about spoilers; because David found a partner in the hotel. She also had no heart.
David’s new interest is a champion loner hunter, having extended her stay at the hotel for 158 days, having captured at a minimum 113 loners. They move to the couple’s section and begin their relationship. To understand how heartless she is, let me pose two examples: The coupling is formed based on her faking choking to death and wakes up David with the brutal lethal beating of David’s dog, his brother. I started to notice something very wrong at this point.
The characters in this movie are either subtly expressive or not expressive at all, and this doubles for their delivery of dialog. Moments where you think people would be excited – finding a partner for example – are accompanied not with emotional levity, but with the heavy tone of plain contentment. Even with the death of his doggone brother, David at least had the strength of character to hide his emotional turmoil until he tranquilized his ex, and avenged him by forcing her transformation. Perhaps this is on purpose to display the utter dystopic situation they live in, but it is not enjoyable to watch.
With the help of a maid of The Hotel, David escapes and finds himself in the company of the loners, a group of escapees who wish to live and go into the dirt alone. The latter is ingrained in their traditions, where all loners must dig their grave. If a loner becomes wounded or an enemy, they are left there. In addition, the loners take their name seriously. If two loners develop a relationship and express it overtly, the interacting body parts are cut off and the new wound(s) of each loner is then mashed into the other.
It’d truly be a wonder if this dystopic society doesn’t see massive waves of psychopaths losing their minds in this society.
Lo and behold, David finds love in a shortsighted loner and they begin a secret relationship. They go through a series of operations set in the city and raiding The Hotel. Eventually, the loner leader finds the journal of David’s lover and blinds her for being in a relationship. Cutting out the fat, the leader is tied up in David’s grave, and the two loner lovers flee to The City.
Here is where “like it” replaced “love it”. Do you want to know if the couple picks up the pieces and attempts to live as both loner and love hotel felons? If you said yes, congratulations; the line forms up behind me. After realizing they don’t have anything in common, they attempt to figure things out in a Diner. David, being shortsighted in more than one regard, asks for a steak knife and heads into the restroom. He uses his good eye to aim the blade at itself, and then the camera cuts to his lover. She waits and the camera fades to black.
I am conflicted because this movie is very well made, but components of it stick out like rusty nails on a beautiful boardwalk. It may look nice, but I feel like the boardwalk is too long, and I’m certainly not going to walk on it again. If you decide to watch this movie, tread carefully. You may find yourself in a situation where you have to calmly describe what royally annoyed you, and you cannot use profane words which would more accurately portray your feelings on the matter.
★★★☆☆ “Decent – Like my car Ol’ Yeller, your mileage may vary.”
Cody Poirier is an Entrepreneurship major, and is the Lifestyle section editor, business manager and a critic for the University Chronicle. He wastes his time so you don’t have to.