DPAC Cinema Preview: “The Lobster”
Brian Boylen | Thursday, September 29, 2016
If you could be any animal, which one would you choose? This question, a staple of playground chats, seems relatively innocuous in nature. This is not the case in the world of “The Lobster,” where the transformation from man to animal is a harsh reality. In the dystopian society presented by the film, adults must find a romantic partner within 45 days — else they are turned into an animal of their choosing. This terrifying premise perhaps implies that “The Lobster” is a horror film; however it is actually a black comedy thick with social commentary on the nature of dating in the 21st century.
Colin Farrell stars as David, a recently divorced man who must now find a new lover within 45 days or else suffer the fate of his brother, who has been turned into a dog. In order to facilitate the process of matchmaking, single people are brought to a beautiful seaside resort where they can court other singles ready to mingle. Unfortunately, the hotel is anything but romantic. Patrons are subject to a wide swath of strange rituals such as watching poorly acted plays on the dangers of being alone or, even more terrifying, hunting escapees of the hotel known as “Loners” in a nearby forest. Despite the emphasis placed on finding on a partner, the dystopian society certainly makes it challenging. People must have a defining quality in common with their prospective lover in order to become a couple and avoid life as an animal. This rule serves as a great source of humor and social commentary throughout the movie. Characters desperately trying to find some trait in common with one another is distinctly reminiscent of first dates in our own world, where potential partners grasp at straws to find any sort of commonality between them.
The term “black comedy” fails to do this movie justice. As David’s time dwindles, he becomes increasingly desperate and attempts to woo a woman whose heartlessness defines her. The film takes this plot point to its logical endpoint; ultimately David must pretend to enjoy the agonizing screams of a woman who just failed a suicide attempt in order to pass as an emotionless psychopath. This notion of changing oneself to find a partner is a repeated motif throughout the movie. In a more humorous, but still disturbing example of this, one of David’s acquaintances induces a nosebleed by smashing his nose into a swimming pool wall in order to have common ground with a girl that suffers from chronic nosebleeds. Director Yorgos Lanthimos never shies away from connecting this world to our own — the entire film is blatantly allegorical.
Despite pacing problems in the back half of the film, “The Lobster” remains a must-see. The humor is dark, but certainly enjoyable, and the social commentary will only ever become more poignant as the use of superficial online dating services increases. See “The Lobster” Oct. 1 or 2 at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center for an enjoyable, yet mentally stimulating experience. A word of warning, however: Unless you have a strong stomach or three, you might end up losing your lunch in exchange for the vivid, disturbing realities illustrated throughout the film.