The Lobster (2015)
When I first read The Lobster’s premise – “in a dystopian near future, single people are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into animals and sent off into the woods” (IMDb) – I was perplexed and intrigued. I love it when directors tackle something entirely new, and a science fiction narrative is the perfect platform for that.
Director Yorgos Lanthimos, who made the strange but oddly moving Dogtooth (2009), was able to work with Hollywood heavyweights Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz on this one. I find it hard to imagine how they were roped in to star in something so utterly pretentious and absurd. Perhaps The Lobster was sold to them as super quirky and inventive: a unique acting challenge in a beautiful scenery. It would be oh so ‘different’ and ‘edgy’ with scenes of shocking brutality, but revealing so much truth about human romantic relationships and what we do to each other to find love and companionship.
Too bad that is not the whole truth. The Lobster is ultimately a frustrating experience: inconsistent in the dystopian vision it aims to create, often completely pointless, and trying too hard to be unconventional at the expense of creating a meaningful viewing experience. Most distracting is the deliberately deadpan acting style, which feels forced rather than organic, and adds to the overall feeling of vacuity. Why should we care about any of these characters’ destinies?
At some point even the most well-intentioned viewer will realize that behind the hipster aesthetic, the dark humor, and the surreal situations, The Lobster is just not that interesting.