The Lobster

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Winner of the Jury Prize at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in 2015, The Lobster may be one of the strangest movies you’ll ever see and it’s definitely an acquired taste. It is an absurd, Kafkaesque film set in a dystopian world in which humans turn into animals if they do not find love. Colin Farrell plays a newcomer at a matchmaking resort known simply as the Hotel where guests must go through preposterous activities to find a mate within 45 days or be transformed into an animal of their choosing. Accompanied by his brother who has been turned into a dog, he encounters quite the characters portrayed by an impressive ensemble cast, including Olivia Colman, John C. Reilly, and Ben Whishaw. Eventually, Farrell’s character finds his true soulmate outside the confines of forced love at the Hotel. His love played by Rachel Weisz is a part of a group called the Loners that escaped the Hotel and harshly punish those making romantic gestures. The story’s ridiculousness is underscored by the intentionally stoic, unemotional performances from the actors. None of the characters bat an eye even amidst truly confounding situations and dialogue so ludicrous that the audience cannot help but laugh. The subtle comic undertones reinforce the film’s satirical and allegorical messages about the absurdities of modern romance. It suggests that love cannot be mandated and does not always conform to a strict pattern. The structure of the Hotel mimics online dating and the feeling that there is a time clock on when people should find romance and get married. Beyond the effective use of the bizarre to perpetuate satire, the cinematography is remarkable in its own right. The dreary yet naturally beautiful setting of the isolated Hotel and woods next to an alpine lake under an almost constant fog creates an eerie and mystical atmosphere. Also, the random appearance of exotic animals, representing those unable to find a partner, visualizes the absurdity of the film’s premise. The score with discordant music and sound effects further accentuates the movie’s unique tone. The creative use of all these elements fashion a film that blends the weirdness of Wes Anderson, Charlie Kaufman, and David Lynch. Overall, I felt the film to be a well-executed and biting satire so utterly strange that audiences will either love it or hate it. It is definitely something that may be more appealing to film snobs, critics, and filmmakers.

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