The modern world is a difficult and tricky place. Relationships have become even more difficult – to find and maintain. With all the barriers like isolation, plenty of competition, long work weeks, distractions like social media and the entertainment industry, and alienation romance seems to have fallen by the wayside. This is something that the film industry, screenwriters and directors want to explore.
Greek native Yorgos Lanthimos (Alps, Dogtooth) takes up the mantle in his dystopian film, The Lobster. Using his usual stance of professional unbiasedness he largely uses narration to tell the tale. He and his characters almost seem like they are standing at arm’s length from the issue that is at the heart of the film – love and relationships.
David (Colin Farrell – In Bruges, Saving Mr. Banks) is a thirtysomething man, whose wife has just left him. Because in this world human beings are not allowed to exist alone or remain single, David checks in, with his dog (who is actually more than just a dog), to a high end seaside hotel. This is not just an attempt by David to relax after his big life change as this is not your typical hotel. It is a resort that gives single people 45 days to find a mate. If they do great. If they don’t then they will be transformed into an animal of their choice. David informs the hotel he wants to become a lobster if he is not successful in finding himself a mate.
For companionship during his stay David becomes friends with a lisping man (John C. Reilly – Chicago, Step Brothers) and a limping man (Ben Whishaw – Spectre, Cloud Atlas). Friendship is vital as the rules (no masturbating, physical experiments, etc.) are quite strict. Realizing that this is not the way to find a partner or live his life David fashions a complex plan in order to “escape” from the hotel.
Once free, David joins a group of single people who live in the woods. They, who allow masturbation but are against sex and love, are led by a severe woman (Léa Seydoux – Blue is the Warmest Color, The Grand Budapest Hotel). David meets a woman (Rachel Weisz – The Mummy, The Fountain), who is also short sighted like he.
An interesting juxtaposition of a group that almost forcibly tries to inject emotion into life to another that rejects emotion. Is this how our society operates? One extreme or the other? Capitalism versus socialism lingers in the background. Both seem radical in that they harshly punish those who do not follow along.
Lanthimos’ film skirts the edges of reality and surrealism. He shows how he believes that in today’s society that the individual has less and less power to choose the life they want to lead due to the overbearing governments and other powers. What may turn some off is his hard-edged look at the subject of love. There is precious little emotion to be found. It is all rather flat. Emotions are not allowed to cloud the issue. It is almost as if he is saying that even love cannot fill the void that comes with today’s life. Today’s world wants love, but the strict order is imposes stands in the way of romantic love and coupling. Social satire at its most sharp.