Sunday, June 5, 2016

Film Review: THE LOBSTER

Don't believe the hype, the reviews, the trailers or the posters telling you this is a laugh-riot. Depending on your sensitivity, you will spend at least some time averting your eyes, covering your ears, and looking at your watch as you squirm your way through 118 minutes of The Lobster. Billed as a satirical take on society's obsession with coupledom, this challenging film is set sometime in the not-too-distant future (since everything looks just like now) when being single, or a "loner," is seen as an outright threat to civilization.

David and his brother in happier times.
The fantastical premise, which sounds like it could be sort of fun and funny if done right, is that if you are alone for whatever reason -- death of a spouse, divorce or just plain ugly -- and can't find a compatible "partner" in 45 days, the State will have you transformed into an animal of your choosing. Recalling some of my past significant others, I would have jumped at the chance to be a cat instead of me. But I digress. Our pathetic hero, David, played with incredible finesse and a surprisingly assertive paunch by Colin Farrell, has chosen in advance to be a lobster should things get to that, which they don't.

In fact, there is not a speck of seafood or shellfish to be seen anywhere. What there is are lots of disturbing images one hopes will not leave permanent imprints, like a dog, once the brother of the protagonist, beaten to death and lying in a pool of his own blood. And a man screaming in agony as his hand is stuck inside a toaster by the authorities as punishment for masturbating, which is of course against the law. Toss in some random animal cruelty (including dead bunnies) and lots of human cruelty, both emotional and physical, and there you have it. Every character is a complete wacko; there's not a normal person anywhere, except maybe sitting next to you in the movie theater, and I said maybe because who would go see such a film?

To say The Lobster is bleak is like saying Hitler had a mean streak. I can honestly say I regret seeing it. Good thing I wasn't at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival where it won the coveted Jury Prize. Had my opinion been found out I might have been stoned to death by an angry mob of married people.

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