Monday, May 16, 2016

Relationships clawed in The Lobster

The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015), opening May 27 at the Main Art Theatre is, shall we say, unlike many a movie you’ve seen of late. Advisory: this may be difficult for some people to handle. It abounds in absurdity and at times seeming incongruity. The kind of movie, in other words, where people, exiting, may say: “Well that was different!” or “What the heck was that all about?” But it’s nice to come across a film every once in awhile that bucks conventionality, not only in its plot structure but in its themes. Colin Farrell is David, a man who was dumped by his wife. In the story, set in the near future, David is sent to a plush countryside resort which is also a kind of prison. Here, he must find a new mate in 45 days or be turned into an animal. Because, it appears, this society only accepts couples as legitimate forms of life. David meets his fellow inmates such as John C. Reilly as the Lisping Man and Rachel Weisz as the Short Sighted Woman. Ashley Jensen as the Biscuit Woman tries to seduce him but fails and attempts suicide. David has his eyes on Heartless Woman (Angeliki Papoulia) who in turn is attracted by his emotional coldness.  Lisping Man is caught masturbating and is forced by authorities to put his hand in a hot toaster until it burns. David escapes from the asylum to a forest of renegade “Loners.” So just when you think this is a movie condemning conventional coupledom we also find that the Loners prohibit romance and have their own violent means to deal with transgressors. Not a pretty picture all around. Finally, David and his illicit paramour Short Sighted Woman (photo above) go on trips into the city where they change clothes and mingle as if they’re a normal couple. But she is set up, and gets blinded from an operation where she thought she was going to have her full sight restored. David, wanting to bond with her, threatens to take his own eyes out. Scenes of the Loners are marked by exotic animals that walk by in the background, obviously formerly people who weren’t able to find a mate and chose their preferred animal in which to be converted. David’s choice was to be a Lobster, hence the movie’s name. Meanwhile The Loners are being hunted by the hotel’s inmates who get additional days’ credit if they shoot a Loner, who in turn are universally dressed in rain ponchos (it gets wet in that forest). The Loners even carry out a small takeover of the hotel and have the hotel manager attempt to shoot his wife (with a blank gun). Hard to figure this out? Can’t get your head around it? Think of the films of Luis Buñuel or David Lynch, or other directors, like Fellini, Bergman and Wes Anderson, who brush up against the absurd. So how do you relate to a film like The Lobster? My advice: Take it as it is and linger in your thoughts upon various of the story’s moments or incidents. There are plenty of them.

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