feedingbrett’s review published on Letterboxd:
We see the conditions of modern love, and we see the this increasing pressures for people to find a companion, there are now multiple services that one could use that one could utilise to ensure the certainty of that process, and despite the contemporary cultures have scrapped the outlook of the traditional views of our elders, the pressure still remains and has simply taken on a new form. This pressure remains anchored in romantic cinema, as characters still endure their lives, placing significant weight on love, conveying how their lives become completely fulfilled when that special someone has entered into their lives. It rarely shows us of the outcome that appears afterwards, the reality that could potentially seperate them apart as humans evolve, and it reflects a sense of relative ease that is inaccurately measured against our reality.
Yorgos Lanthimos seems to challenge the ideas behind this, and presents us a dystopian future, where one’s romantic status places a significant burden on one’s existence, how the entire political and sociological system is catered to this one single life attribute. In this world, he builds a hotel that attends to those who have recently lost their spouses, a destination that appears unavoidable for anybody, acting as a “rehabilitation” program for them to revert back to their statuses of a couple, matchmaking facility that provides its clients 45 days to find a partner, so they may be brought back to urban civilisation rightly as a unit, and they could even provide a child to relieve the new couple of the friction that may arise in between, and if their stay should fail to create a match, then they would be turned into an animal of their choosing.
Through the loneliness and desperation of Colin Farrell’s David, the film’s protagonist, The Lobster manages to explore the seperate factions that currently exist, the hotel and their affiliation with the city’s political system, and the rebels, or the so-called “loners”, led by the ruthless Lea Seydoux, whom all live in the forest. The agenda of the latter is to live a life of independence, one that collectively gathers as a unit to fight the values and methods of the overall system, but ensuring that they live a life of personal detachment from other humans, a sense of freedom that seems to counter-act the restrictions of the hotel, but in itself coming with their own set of limitations. In the film’s former half, Lanthimos allows ample time to explore the hotel, their routines and such, showing the difficulties or manipulation of those in complete desperation in order to save themselves from being transformed. Then the film shifts to the lifestyle of the loners, showing their relevance towards acting against such a system, how their own particular set of values would bring forth issues of their own to the personal condition of an individual, bringing forth punishment that is brutal and at times irreversible.
As one could probably guess from the film’s marketing, a romance is developed between David and a particular short-sighted woman (Rachel Weisz) during the former’s stay with the loners, and it was through their relationship that Lanthimos appears to emphasise that love comes to us not in moments of forced and bounded conditions, but in moments where we least expect it, and once it grips us, it takes over us and at times reduces our affinity towards rationality, notably in a world where finding one another is a greater catharsis in comparison to the real-life conditions of today. It is a branch of sentimentality that may seem utterly out of place for Lanthimos’ particular mode of direction, whom here creates a dual deadpan comedy of social awkwardness and political horror, but it is through their romance that the film earns a human touch that furthers an aspect of development in a world where things are seemed to be set in one particular shade.
The Lobster may not have further impressed me in this second viewing as much I had anticipated, but it remains a thought-provoking and surprisingly entertaining film. It has opened me to the cinematic voice of Lanthimos and added fuel to my motivation to seek more of his films. This is undoubtedly a difficult film to sell to others, as even the explaining the plot would not bring much sense, but it is certainly a film that needs to be seen, a particular standout in recent years.