Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Man and a Dog Check Into a Hotel, or Thoughts on The Lobster

The Lobster (2015), written and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos is a dystopian sci-fi thriller  for adults.  It has been marketed in the trailer as a comedy but it’s actually a tragedy with very minor comedic elements.  The man in the title is David, played by Colin Farrell, fresh off of his swaggering and self-loathing performance in True Detective, Season 2.  The dog is his brother.  This is a future where single and divorced people are transformed into animals if they are unable to find a mate.  The transformation process is unexplained, and takes place in a mysterious room in a sedate hotel in the Irish countryside, much like the House of Pain in The Island of Doctor Moreau. 
Colin Farrell, hiding his natural charisma and star power behind glasses and a paunch, is the only character with a name.  The other actors are named after their attributes, such as The Limping Man, the Nosebleed Woman, The Heartless Woman and The Hotel Manager.  In this society, singles desperately search for a connection based on one of these superficial characteristics (sound familiar?) but with the additional ultimatum of living the rest of your life as an animal.  The title of the film comes from David’s choice if he should fail to meet anyone, as lobsters live for a century and he’s “always been fond of the sea.”
The activities in the hotel include awkward karaoke, awkward dances, and awkward meals where the new couples and singles are segregated by table.  The only time the hotel seems to come alive is during the enforced hunts in the surrounding forest, when the singles chase after the lucky few who have left the hotel and shoot them with tranquilizer darts.  Presumably so they can be dragged back to the hotel and turned into more animals.
Much of the comedy comes from the outrageous lines delivered in a bland and monotone manner.  The actors affect a uniform indifference as if drugged or sleepwalking to depict a society obsessed with mating yet devoid of all passion.  The first half of the film is in the aforementioned hotel, the second half begins when David escapes into the forest to join the Loners, who live free but have forbidden romance and dance alone to electronic music.  It is there that glasses-wearing David forms a connection with Rachel Weisz, the Short Sighted Woman and begins a clandestine romance of secret languages and hidden gestures.
The Lobster also features the always lovely Olivia Colman from Broadchurch as the Hotel Manager, but she will always be remembered as Sophie from Peep Show to me, and John C. Reilly aka Mr.Cellophane as another hapless single, The Lisping Man.
Like all good movies, The Lobster gains hidden depths and relevance after you’ve stepped away and given it some thought.   There is continual pressure from TV, movies and virtually every form of media for singles to find happiness in some form of marriage, and yet the divorce rate is at 50%.  There are entire industries focused on finding your perfect mate, and helping to create a lonely desperation that seems very similar to the one depicted in The Lobster.  With apps like Match, Tinder and Grindr your entire life, hopes, dreams and ambitions can be reduced to your most flattering selfie.  But one quick swipe left and you’re dismissed, forgotten and erased from someone’s life, and you don’t even know it.  At least nobody’s hunting you in the woods, at least not yet.



my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.