Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Lobster

The Lobster is a unique film that is simultaneously funny, thought provoking and uncomfortable. An art piece that belongs in the category of films that should be shared and discussed with others rather than passively watched and forgotten. 

Single people in The Lobster are relegated to second class citizens, regardless of their previous relationship status, and are forcibly sent to The Hotel by the Laws of the City, where they must find a new romantic partner within forty five days or be turned into the animal of their choosing. The protagonist of The Lobster, played by Irishman Colin Farrell, is acted with a level of apathy and detachedness that matches the absurdity of the situation, but he too succumbs to the allure of feigned love in order to escape from The Hotel and the fate that awaits those who fail to find a partner. 

The Hotels sterile and time pressured setting is an amplified version of the various methods people use in the search to find love or merely partnership in a society that favours coupledom. For singles, especially female singles, single life can lead to ostracism and alienation from coupled up people in later years, a sort of social death that is metaphorically represented in the film through anamorphosis. Even outside of The Hotel police officers roam the streets, asking for marriage papers to confirm that people standing alone in The City are in fact coupled, or else they too must be sent away. In The Lobster, single people do not belong in society and instead are relegated to outcasts, unworthy of humanity and therefore turned into animals. 

While the film is set in a semi-dystopian future, the future portrayed seems so similar to the present and the location of The City and The Hotel so ambiguous that watching it makes you feel that rather than the future it's simply a parallel and exaggerated version of now. A hybrid of different nationalities and accents, including British, American, French and Irish, The Lobsters inclusion of various countries adds a level of realism to the film and renders its meaning all the more poignant. 

Though the overall premise of the film is hyperbolic, it echoes the pressure many of us feel within society to be coupled and the efforts that people go to conform to another, even if they don't suit each other or feel any passion for each other. The mentality that it is better to be together than to be alone taking precedence over their own happiness. The allure to conform through partnership is strong, and to be alone is to exist as almost nothing in a world where couples are favoured. In the film, to be alone for the sake of being alone is a crime, a reflection of the pressure and judgement people experience to be with somebody rather than being allowed to enjoy their own solitude. There are layers of meaning within the film ripe for subjective analysis and that is what I enjoyed about The Lobster the most, the depth that so many other films lack.