A Satirical Approach in Love with “The Lobster”
Colin Farrell takes on the role of David in the unconventional film “The Lobster.” (Photo provided by youtube.com.)
“The Lobster” opens featuring a slumped-over, mustached Colin Farrell hearing the news that his wife of 12 years has left him for another man. The news would send any spouse into a pit of self-loathing and depression, but it strikes more significance because of this particular comedy’s societal norms.
Newly single, David (Colin Farrell) is sent to a rural hotel where he is given 45 days to find a suitable partner to spend the rest of his life with. Like the other single guests, if David is to fail the one task given to him, he will suffer an unusual punishment—being turned into an animal of his choosing.
The manager of the establishment explains to David in the film, “The fact that you’ll turn into an animal if you fail to fall in love with someone during your stay here is not something that should upset you or get you down. Just think, as an animal you’ll have a second chance to find a companion.”
Given the choice of any animal, David chooses a lobster.
— The Lobster (@LobsterFilm) February 9, 2016
Residents are forced to undergo monotonous, day-to-day exercises involving instructional classes and mingling that slowly leads some guests to dire measures. As David’s remaining days at the hotel dwindle, it becomes apparent to him—as well as other residents—that he must seek a life partner regardless of emotional attachment, diminishing the overall structural purpose of love.
With his careless forms of expression and his choice in brief response, David acts as an outcast destined to remain alone. His desire to remain unattached to those he meets at the hotel illustrates David as a rebel in a broken society.
— The Lobster (@LobsterFilm) May 12, 2016
Although the concept of “The Lobster” seems simple enough, the plot slowly thickens as the film progresses. Just as the audience begins to grasp the norms and rhythm of the film, more rules and specifications are thrown into the plot, leaving viewers more confused than when they started.
Director and writer of “The Lobster,” Yorgos Lanthimos strategically uses juxtaposition to his advantage by cleverly splitting the film into what seems to be two symbolic chapters in David’s journey: the first chapter focusing on David’s time at the hotel and the second chapter focusing on his transition into the loner society set in the forest.
Using dark, dull shots, ominous score, and wide, established angles, Greek director Lanthimos sets a solemn tone in his first ever English film. The director contrasted his dark environmental tones with a comedic dialogue that’s subtle enough to give an absurd impression.
Not just a dark comedy, The abrupt contrast between dialogue and expression categorizes “The Lobster” as what critics are calling an “absurdist comedy.” Comparable to Wes Anderson’s usual approach, Lanthimos’ written words are powerful, but his character’s execution of expression and emotion are dull, bleak and minimal.
— The Lobster (@LobsterFilm) May 17, 2016
When asked during an interview with “The New York Times” about his approach with dialogue, writer and director Lanthimos said, “The goal, adding these layers, the voice-over, the music and the scene, was to create a different tone from what they individually would represent. The music could be dramatic and romantic, the voice-over could be cold and observational, and the scene could be very funny. If you put these three together, they produce a very different tone from each of those elements.”
Along with his use of juxtaposition, Lanthimos’ overall aesthetically pleasing cinematography attracts any independent-film connoisseur. Colorful animals are placed against a lush, forested environment and randomly placed in the background of shots throughout the film.
Viewers walk out with both a sense of satisfaction and a want for more because of the film’s visual and intellectual stimulation. As viewers engage in this hilariously mesmorizing film, one primary question runs through their head: What animal would I choose?