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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Movie Review: The Lobster (2016), More on Modern Romance, Love and A Bit on Kafka

Image result for the lobster poster
The Lobster (2016)

Starring: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Jessica Barden
Written By: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou
Directed By: Yorgos Lanthimos
Release Date: May 13, 2016
Rating: 4/5

Summary: In a dystopian future, the single people in a place called The City are to live The Hotel, a place where they will have 45 days to meet someone or they will be transformed into an animal of their choosing.

My Thoughts: In most absurdist works, there is an obvious point. There is a driving point and a message and as viewers, we know it's there and it's our job to find out what that message is. The problem with most absurdist works is that it points out that there is a point and that it is your job to find it and rubs that in your face along with fancy cinematography and very artistic stylization and for most people that is what they do not like about The Lobster. In my opinion, while it is blatantly obvious that there is a point, it doesn't come off as pretentious as most people make it out to be because the message is quite hard to find. The true message that is. While in a lot of other movies, books, etc, the point is there and it's blatantly there in other works, but here the message is much more subtle.

I saw this movie about a week ago and I had to sit and let it stir in my mind for a bit before I began this review. I looked at other reviews, watched interviews and now I get it. This film is weird. It's probably going to be the strangest thing you'll see for a while, but then again, I haven't seen the director's previous films, Dogtooth and Alps, which also sounds quite as strange, but like that of Kafka's Metamorphosis, this film's absurd premise tells a greater tale than that of this place called The City, but one about the humanity of the world we live in. Like Gregor's transformation in Kafka's short story, he's transformed into a bug and the story is him trying to hide it from his family out of sheer embarrassment and fear that can't do what he needs to do for his family or society in general, like that of the people in this film who fear their transformation, not because of the sheer fact that they're being transformed into a goddamn animal, but because it is in that transformation that marks them as an outsider, a failure to society all because they didn't find someone.

And it's in that point that the movie's dynamic is created. The intent behind the character's desperation isn't the punishment itself, it's not about that. It rejects this kind of dynamic that could've turned it into an actual science fiction film and relies on that of love which is why it is actually more of a romantic comedy, but even more so a film similar to that of art cinema in the way it shocks us at it's brillant end and it's ambiguity in general, but Lanthimos doesn't care about genre.

 This world that the characters live in, no matter how unorthodox and bizarre the system that control the world is, is a mirror of our own. Which is why The City is presented as the whole world. We don't know if it is the whole world, but it seems to be because we are doing the same thing in ours. We, as human beings, drive to find out special person in the world and it's become abundantly clear through multi-million dollar matchmaking services like Tinder, Match.com, Blackpeoplemeet.com, Christianmingle.com, that finding someone is very important to us. People spend money on these services and at the end of the day, things work out or they don't. They long to find that other person based on similar character traits, personalities and likes which is what these servers base their matches on, which we flick through until we find "the perfect match" and in this film, that's what these people are doing at The Hotel. 

The matches people make in the movie are based on characteristics, such as the Nosebleeding Woman and the Limping Man who fakes nosebleeds to gain the woman's affection. Or the Heartless Women and David's fake attempt at being heartless to gain her affection, that is until she does something unforgivable. While in our world, it may not seem harmful to try and gain someone's affection based on pure mutual interests alone, but the movies presents this kinds of love as a selfish act of desperation for fear of being alone in our case because in actuality, that's what it is, or turned into some kind of animal in the case for the residents of the Hotel or in Gregor's case living up to his family's and society's standards. Should we love someone because they're like ourselves? Or love someone purely because of who they are? The residents of The Hotel do the latter because it is much easier and takes less time because they only have 45 days to find love or they'll be turned into an animal, that sign of singledom, that sign of loneliness, of failure and solitude. A sign that also is synonymous a something embarrassing or seen as a plague which is why it is outlawed in the film and, again, how our world is as we look down upon the single and praise those in relationships because they seem happy and it seems that this is something we all should aim for, but are people in relationships always happy? No one can really tell, but from a single perspective it seems as if it's all they want.

All the people in relationships in this film seem unhappy, but they're praised for finding love even if for selfish reasons and The Lobster says all of this in a subtly, dark and humorous matter and when I say humorous, I mean dead-pan, "you'll miss it if you don't pay attention or aren't getting" kind of humor. The performances of all the actors is brilliant, the writing, the direction and pretty much everything is great, but no movie is perfect. During the latter of the first act of the film, it begins to get a bit boring once we've gotten a hold on what exactly is going on and everything is explained, but it picks up later on. I promise. It's a great film with a lot of surprises to it, especially with that of the ending, which I won't talk about. It's the kind of film you need not question because it's case is there and it gives you a bit on info, without giving it all because, again, it wants you to decipher it and I had a grand time doing just that.

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