The Lobster

May 30, 2016 at 6:26 pm | Posted in 2016 | Leave a comment
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I feel that I need to start with a caveat: I did not like this movie but everyone else did. It has a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and it won the Jury Prize at Cannes last year. The person I saw it with loved it. Some of my favorite film critics loved it. Everyone loved it, it seems, except me. Now, granted, this is not your average film going experience. Set in some bizarre parallel universe, it takes place in a society where being single is outlawed and the punishment is to get turned into the animal of your choice. Colin Farrell’s character has been sent to “the hotel” to find a new mate after his wife left him. If he fails to within 45 days, he will be turned into a lobster. This sounds like it might be funny and maybe it would be, if it weren’t all so damned bleak. Various hotel guests, including John C. Reilly (“Wreck-it-Ralph,” “Step Brothers”) and Ben Whishaw (“The Danish Girl,” the recent “Bond” films), shuffle around giving such understated performances that they all appear heavily sedated and hopeless. When the story shifts unexpectedly, we are introduced to characters played by Léa Seydoux (“Blue is the Warmest Color,” “Spectre”) and Rachel Weisz (the “Mummy” movies, “Oz the Great and Powerful”). Given the circumstances in which we meet them, we might have expected more emoting. That would be a mistake. Director Yorgos Lanthimos clearly wanted quiet, introspective, minimalist performances. Unfortunately, they left me feeling completely uninvested in any of the characters which, given the grim arc of the storyline, may have been a good thing. Lanthimos is a critical darling, who is well respected for his complex and difficult movies, like “Dogtooth” and “Alps.” He uses fantastical imagery to explore deeper issues but, here, the metaphor felt lost for me. He is clearly saying something about dating in our modern age and the obsession we have with finding mates through the matching of random characteristics (he’s talking to you, OKCupid). And, on another level, he seems to also be making commentary about fascist governments, resistance groups, sex laws and hypocrisy. It’s all heady stuff but, for me, it all fell flat because I could never get beyond the silliness on screen. It was neither funny enough to be parody, nor grounded enough to be commentary. Add to that the empty, shuffling performances and nothing resonated with me at all. I was bored for two very long, checking-the-clock, hours. It’s a shame because I feel like I missed out on something that others enjoyed. Clearly, they were relating to the film on a level that I could not. Perhaps, that makes my review suspect. So, in fairness, here is a link to A.O. Scott’s review from the NYTimes. I’ll let you decide who’s opinion feels like the better fit for you.


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