Reviews: The Lobster

The Smart Man\'s Dystopia

The Lobster is a film about a society where being single is not permitted, and anyone unable to find a partner within 45 days is forcibly turned into an animal. Our protagonist finds himself single, and is thus shipped off to a rural hotel with a bunch of other eligible "loners", where he hopes to stave off being transmuted into lobster. This is my kind of story.

The premise sounds a lot like one of Donald Barthelme's surrealist, satirical short stories, but in practise resembles Woody Allen's Sleeper. In both movies, we have a meek man trapped in a dystopia that means him harm, who is later forced into a resistance movement, and who ultimately just wants to romance one of his comrades than have a part in some deranged conflict. Despite the similarities to either of these comedic works, The Lobster feels refreshingly distinct from most other lazy dystopia works. Here, the might of the state isn't represented by a brute squad of riot police, but by a friendly (if ruthless) hotel staff. It's a hilarious, dark setting that is full of inventive ways to punish social transgressions.

The film seeks to satirise our society's obsession with relationships, and how it trades on the anxiety and vulnerability of what we call singles. In The Lobster, every character talks in a stilted, mechanical way, constantly forcing themselves to find common interests with one another, often using a single superficial similarity to justify a life long relationship. On the other hand, the resistance is easily as self-flagellating, punishing anyone who dares fall in love.

The Lobster is a bit odd and a bit off putting for some, but very funny and very good for anyone in the mood for something that can be clever and unconventional, without being painfully artsy or self-satisfied.
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