Colin Farrell has always been at his best in small, indie, obscure or “off the beaten track” roles so I was looking forward to seeing him in The Lobster,an absurdist drama from director Yorgos Lanthimo. But MAN did I dislike this movie a lot. Perhaps because the past year has been spent watching the news with one eye closed because it seems like a never ending stream of horribleness and I don’t feel that I need a big, bombastic film about how love is ridiculous and probably doesn’t exist at all. Perhaps I genuinely didn’t like this film. Anyway. Is that a simplification? Of course it is. The film takes place in a not too distant future where single people are whisked away to a luxury resort where they have 45 days to find a mate or be turned into an animal of their choosing. In the meantime they hunt the loners, a group of single people who reject relationships as strongly as the hotel promotes them. Dave (Colin Farrell) goes to the hotel after his wife leaves him, accompanied by his dog (formerly his brother, Bob) where he tries to make a connection with a woman who has absolutely no feelings. When things go horribly awry he takes off and joins the loners, only to find himself in love with “the short sighted woman” (Rachel Weisz). The film is very stark and beautiful and the actors’ flat delivery works well. The characters are all reduced to a singular trait and ridiculous, and true to life solutions (just have a child!) are offered to solve any relationship problems. All that is fine and a valid criticism of how society encourages people to find a stereotypical relationship that fits certain parameters and that single people are sometimes unjustly ridiculed and maligned. The Lobster has received much critical acclaim which leaves me in the minority, but I found the premise just a little bit (a lot) patronising. Are relationships sometimes built on abstract or boring foundations? Sure. Is the emphasis on forming relationships/family/community something that has been used throughout history as something to better society rather than the individual? Sure. Have relationships been used abusively to subjugate women and children? Certainly and these are things that are worth discussing. But The Lobster doesn’t discuss them, it hits all the usual points (will people ultimately choose themselves over their partner in a time of danger?) and hits them on the nose. It’s worth noting that I don’t particularly think that movies have a message, and just because they make a comment on something doesn’t mean they have a “meaning”. But again, watching this film made me feel as if I was sitting through a 2 hour sermon, an extremely beautiful, star studded and sometimes hilarious sermon, but a sermon nonetheless. By the time the ending arrived I was hoping for a dramatic declaration that aligned the points of the film. That sounds as though I am saying that I wanted to be spoon-fed as an audience member, and maybe that is what I am saying, I don’t know. That said, the ending does make a big statment that does, possibly, change the way we understand the film but, for me at least, it wasn’t enough to make a cohesive, enjoyable film.
What do you think? Did you see The Lobster? Did you like it? Did I totally miss the mark? Let me know in the comments.