Film Reviews

THE LOBSTER

By • Jun 1st, 2016 •

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In THE LOBSTER, being alone is shameful. How can someone be a productive member of society and be single? So shameful is the life of singlehood in The City, you are sent to The Hotel, a resort where, if you have not found a compatible mate in 45 days, you are turned into an animal of your choice. Outside the absurd “being turned into an animal” part, our society in general sees spending one’s life alone as a kind of failure. Not so long ago, if you were not married by a certain age, you were called a “spinster” or a “confirmed bachelor”. (Unless “confirmed bachelor” meant something else in the 50s and 60s.)

In 2015, 15% of Americans used an online dating service.

No one who is married thinks single people are happy. So, like the characters in THE LOBSTER, we are also looking for “compatibility” in our choice for a mate. It’s the magic eHarmony word. Yet, doesn’t “compatible” really mean that you like to do certain things and you are not about to drop doing them for someone else’s favorite things. You want someone who is just like you!

But with more money.

eHarmony.com brags its questionnaire can accurately match people according to their compatibility. You must go through an extensive 436-item questionnaire about yourself. The hundreds of questions are intrusive and are meant to be. Now you have committed 4 or 8 hours to answering the questions the best way to get matches. You have taken the tutorials. You prepared by reading books. You think you can fake sincerity.

I bet eHarmony throws out those bloated masturbatory questionnaires and just matches you up by location.

David (Colin Farrell) is a tragic case. He is newly divorced, overweight and a banquet feast of depression. He has good hair but a lousy mustache. Instead of spending every minute of his 45 days trying to “hook up” with any of the women staying at The Hotel, he spends his time relaxing with Lisping Man (John C. Reilly) and Limping Man (Ben Whishaw).

There are rules to choosing a compatible mate. Falling in love has no place in compatibility. Every evening, the guests (The Loners) are given rifles and must go outside The Hotel in the woods and kill the Deserters, the men and women who have fled The Hotel and the law of Couplehood.

Killing a Deserter gets you more time to find a compatible mate.

David (I’m calling him “Depressed Man”), Lisping Man and Limping Man finally rouse themselves to the task at hand. This is quite charming a process but, when Depressed Man’s failure to live up to the role he has assigned himself, he takes off for the woods.

Depressed Man meets the Escapee’s leader, Loner Leader (Léa Seydoux) and is immediately attracted to Short Sighted Woman (Rachel Weisz).

Imagine being defined by your most obvious worst trait?

Instant Chemistry is a company that uses a person’s DNA to help figure out who to love – in the long term. Instant Chemistry works like this: you and your partner sign up to receive a “relationship kit” containing two saliva receptacles, which you spit into and send back to the company. Instant Chemistry then extracts certain genetic information from the samples and, based on what they term “bio- and neuro-compatibility”, score how compatible you are.

Because, as Instant Chemistry reasons, you don’t want to waste your time with someone and then marry that person not knowing they have a marker for an expensive disease, will become a raging alcoholic, or has the gene for being lazy.

What about those of us who think we are so unique no one could match up with us? Do we just settle for “inferior compatibility”?

I ridicule the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) because it is based on a box with 16 squares. Each square indicates a type of personality. I said: “Where is my box? That is, where is box No. 17?”

A sexy Colin Farrell would not be a Loner. So Farrell said he gained weight for the role. It is his demeanor that carries the character. Depressed Man is not someone you want to spend the evening sitting next to at a formal dinner. Whishaw has the most fun with his role. While THE LOBSTER might not be to everyone’s taste, Yorgos Lanthimos, director and co-writer with Efthymis Filippou, refuses to give THE LOBSTER’S premise any defense. It is what it is. Peculiar trends happen in societies all the time.

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/.

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com.

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