Monthly Archives: May 2016

Film Review: The Lobster

Film Review: The Lobster

Unusual Tale Of Romance In The Internet Age. Comfort Not Guaranteed.

The films of Yorgos Lanthimos are not for everyone. It is almost as if he puts a traditional film plot inside a funhouse mirror and photographs it. He has serious things to say, and I do think he wants viewers to get his message. I just do not think he wants anybody comfortable for even one minute.

Lanthimos is said to have gotten the idea for his breakthrough film, 2009’s Dogtooth, because he failed to share a friend’s enthusiasm about getting married. Dogtooth deals with three young people (a boy and two girls) on the threshold of adulthood. They have been so poorly home-schooled by their parents that they are both unable and unwilling to venture beyond the fences of the family dwelling area.Dogtooth Three Siblings

A cautionary tale for helicopter parents and their kids who never want to move out? Hard to say. The parents in Dogtooth give their offspring inaccurate vocabulary lessons (like “the sea” is a large armchair, and “zombies” are little yellow flowers). They bring a female factory worker to have sex with their son (she, in turn, barters with the older girl for certain sex acts). Watching Dogtooth is like being a fly on the wall at a cult compound.

Lanthimos’ dark new comedy, The Lobster, deals with romantic relationships. As with his other films, Lanthimos co-writes with Efthymis Filippou. The story appears to take place now or in the near future. Society imposes a requirement that single people check into the Hotel to be paired with a suitable mate. If they do not manage to find someone in 45 days, they will be turned into the animal of their choosing.The Lobster David

The protagonist, newly-divorced David (a restrained Colin Farrell), checks into the Hotel with a dog. He explains to management, “It’s my brother. He didn’t make it.” David, who is the only named character in the film, joins forces with Lisping Man (John C. Reilly) and Limping Man (Ben Whishaw) in the hunt for a new partner. They attend a number of planned functions, included periodic hunts of Loners (people who have escaped from the Hotel and created their own outlaw colony). For every Loner shot, the Resident gets an extra day added to the 45-day mating period.

The idea of opposites attracting is not part of the algorithm here. Residents of the Hotel are defined by their physical conditions, emphasizing the importance that they find new mates with similar issues. When Limping Man finds himself attracted to Nosebleed Woman (Jessica Barden), he bashes his own nose so that he will have nosebleeds like hers. The ruse pays off, and Limping Man is the first of the trio to move into the Couples area.The Lobster Three Men

David tries something similar with Heartless Woman (Angeliki Papoulia), but the results are disastrous. He is left with two alternatives- allow the Hotel staff to turn him into a lobster (his chosen animal) immediately, or escape to become one of the Loners. David chooses the latter.

At first, David is happy being part of the Loners. There is no pressure to find a mate or interact socially. Everything changes, though, when he falls in love with another Loner, Short Sighted Woman (Rachel Weisz). Unfortunately, Loners are forbidden to form romantic attachments. Those who fall in love are subject to extreme physical punishments. So, what are David and Short Sighted Woman to do?The Lobster Short-Sighted Woman

As mentioned, this is a real change of pace for Colin Farrell. His performance is a gem, matched by Rachel Weisz (whose matter-of-fact voiceover gives details about the story). There is a real, and interesting, chemistry between these two characters.

I would call Thimios Bakatakis’ cinematography breathtaking, except that it seems inappropriate given the film’s tone. The Lobster was shot in Ireland (County Kerry and Dublin), using natural light except for a few night scenes. Another rarity-actors in this film worked almost entirely without makeup. Visually, this is a very engaging film.The Lobster Mission

It is also engaging from an intellectual standpoint, but maybe not on first viewing. This one requires mulling over. My conclusion is that The Lobster is a comment on relationships in the Internet age. Both groups (Hotel and Loners) have narrows sets of rules and punish even small infractions severely. There is no gray area with either group, and certainly no tolerance of opposing views. In fact, disagreement can get you hunted down.

In spite of everything, though, people still manage to fall in love. Ironically, this ebony-dark, dystopian comedy has a sweet and hopeful message at its heart. Just do not tell Lanthimos that I said so.

Theme: Dystopian Romance

Related Posts: Film Appreciation: Sleeper  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-appreciation-sleeper/

Dystopian Romance: List For Week Ending May 29, 2016  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/dystopian-romance-list-for-week-ending-may-29-2016/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Film Appreciation: Sleeper

Film Appreciation: Sleeper

Woody Allen’s film Sleeper is part stand-up act, part homage to classic film. It is also pretty darned funny. Allen, who co-wrote the script with Marshall Brickman, also directs and stars. Much of the comedy stems from the 20th century protagonist, Miles Monroe (Allen) and his reactions against his 22nd century dystopian surroundings. This week’sContinue Reading

Dystopian Romance: List For Week Ending May 29, 2016

Dystopian Romance: List For Week Ending May 29, 2016

Dystopia is an imaginary place defined by misery (governmental, environmental, etc). There have been quite a few films set in dystopias, but our list focuses on the ones which feature a romance. There is still a lot of leeway-even animated films like WALL-E qualify because of the environmental factor. This is not an all-inclusive list.Continue Reading

Film Review: Presenting Princess Shaw

Film Review: Presenting Princess Shaw

Presenting Princess Shaw is a real-life Cinderella story for the 21st century. The film is inspiring without being cloying, largely due to its subject. However, Ido Haar’s film also serves as a powerful reminder that boundaries on the Internet-legal and otherwise- are a work in progress. Princess Shaw is the performance name chosen by 39-year-oldContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: It Should Happen To You

Film Appreciation: It Should Happen To You

George Cukor’s 1954 film It Should Happen To You has a theme that is still relevant today. The film’s protagonist, Gladys Glover (Judy Holliday), wants to become famous. She is not especially picky about the method, which leads to unexpected results, and quite a lot of comedy. The basic idea for the script came about whenContinue Reading

Film Review: Vita Activa

Film Review: Vita Activa

If you are not familiar with Hannah Arendt, or only know her as the woman who coined the phrase “banality of evil”, you might consider seeing Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt. We can learn much of use by studying her written works-in particular, the ones that emphasize government’s need for a diversity ofContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: Hannah Arendt

Film Appreciation: Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt is a biographical film dealing with Arendt’s coverage of ex-Nazi Adolph Eichmann’s trial in 1961. Originally, Arendt volunteers to write a series of articles the trial for The New Yorker. This content later becomes the book Eichmann In Jerusalem: A Report On The Banality Of Evil. Arendt is unprepared for the personal andContinue Reading

Thinkers: List For Week Ending May 15, 2016

Thinkers: List For Week Ending May 15, 2016

Our list this week has films about, well, thinkers. Some, like Hannah Arendt, are professionals. Others, like Boris in Love And Death, simply worry a lot. A lot of room for interpretation here. This is not intended as an all-inclusive list. Reader suggestions are welcome. If you know an addition to this list, please writeContinue Reading

Film Review: High-Rise

Film Review: High-Rise

“I think the future will be boredom interrupted by totally unpredictable periods of volatility…What I predict are these outbreaks of psychopathy… and they may provide a necessary role, a roughage in the system.” High-Rise author J. G. Ballard, 1995 Ben Wheatley’s film adaptation of High-Rise (currently available online and in the U.S. on 5/13/16) isContinue Reading