To mention just few dystopian movies recently, with a huge cinematic universe and commercial success, we will must face a battle between the authority and the resistance —strange world with weird colored sky whom the people love fighting. Believe me, there will always be a huge fight. Jump off from the helicopter, kill a giant robot. Everything is goose-bumping. But what if we enter a weird world, not to kill giant robots or zombies, instead, to seek for love? Then, The Lobster is a really kind of dystopian movie we need.
To call it as a dystopian, we must follow the authority, in here, The City. In the first place, The City makes a creepy rule: being single is prohibited, find a partner or you will be transformed into an animal. So, The City “facilitated” the people who are single or just divorced to go to The Hotel.
The Hotel, just like a prison with the same boring clothes and foods, purposes to help the singles finding a matching-mate. The Hotel also demonstrates why being single is dangerous, for example, a man eating alone gets choke then dies or a woman walking alone tends to get raped. Every day, they are given a pants job to see if their sexuality is still functioning, but awfully, no sex or even masturbation allowed. If they did not make it in 45 days, then they will be turned into an animal. Though, they can still extend their deadline if they catch “loners” at the woods.
Loners, here, is the resistance. This is the community that is against The City’s rule. They are living in the woods and do not approve the idea of romance or companionship. Sometimes they go to the city for supplies and train themselves fighting against The Hotel. Their objective is to disclose the negative side of love.
Our hero, a fat cold-hearted man named David (Collin Farrell), is arrested and transferred into The Hotel. After 11 years and one month of marriage, his wife leaves. Outstandingly, “he didn’t burst into tears and he didn’t think that the first thing most people do when they realize someone doesn’t love them anymore is cry,” as the narrator narrated.
David is portrayed as a quiet and unstylish man with no interest in love. He comes to the hotel with his brother who is already turned into a dog. Given by his appearances and social interactions, his days in the hotel are not successful. In that state, he decides to fake a relationship, appallingly just like the other singles. “It is more difficult to pretend that you do have feelings when you don’t than to pretend you don’t have feelings when you do,” he said.
Therefore, he makes it with another cold-hearted woman (Angeliki Papoulia) who never smile or even help a person who falls from a building just a couple of feet from her. Love is simplified (as shown in the events of the hotel) as a perfect match between the two, possessing the same behavior means true love. David can maintain this scheme very well, or until his no-heart wife kills his brother (yes, a dog). His heartless pretender resists, he cries, shots his wife and turns her into an animal. He then passes in the woods near the hotel as a runaway.
Absurdity in an absurd world
This hazardous runaway story seems at its very peak of uniqueness. The direction of dystopian ways may take the hero as “real hero”, questioning his state and setting a revolution. But it is not a political and economic dystopian (1984, George Orwell), a constraint of gladiator-like sports from 12 districts (The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins), or a simulation of living in a massive maze (Maze Runners, James Dashner). This movie is an original screenplay by Yorgos Lanthimos, which is destined to be as cruel as it seemed, forcing people to love someone in 45 days or be an animal.
Love is many things. But to call it as a mere mate-matching, with the same peculiar similarities, it is not love. The city as the ruler employing its resources to control or define love has gone really far. That is why the loners exist. People have every right to be alone. It is like someone steps out of the crowd. And that “someone” cannot be judged or shamefaced guilty just because they are single and even aware of what they choose.
Seeing this, we can also interpret it in our daily life. What kind of institutions that are maintaining the rules? What do they do to the “loners”? What do we feel and think if we have someone who wants to step out of the community? All of these questions are well-crafted by the hands and eyes of the director.
Yorgos precisely portrays the inimitable of love. People cannot be forced to love someone. A character like David, who is forced to love someone by a tinder-like institution, finally finds his love in the place where love is forbidden, the loners. Yorgos successfully fosters the absurd of love and puts it in the absurd world. Wherever they go, love is still an absurd thing.
When David is falling in love with a short-sighted loner woman (Rachel Weisz), same as his, it is also shown the surreal moral standard of love of the people. The propaganda of The Hotel has clearly influenced this state of conduct. However, it is also out of the blue when the paradigm of the main character has already shifted but the measures of love propaganda is still upheld. It is showing that love can grow in every soil and water even sometimes we know it is not right.
To make it simple, just mention how many criteria that are asked by parents when looking for a partner? In that score, we know that we are not supposed to agree with that terms. But horrifically, we cannot barely refuse them. Our minds are constructed by the society, refusing one or two does not make us completely different person, or a rebel. When it comes to a movie, this detail of background society is such a strict element, because it gives and holds the context.
This sort of gruesome conflict is also brought to the very last scene. After escaping the woods, we can see David tries to blind his eyes after his partner is blinded because their love story is noticed by the loners. The questions are, is David doing it because of the moral standard of the society? Or, is David blinding his eyes because of the love of his partner? And why is he doing it?
At the end, the answer is left open. One thing for sure, love cannot be controlled by the rules of the government and the resistance. Love simply exists in the loners and the mate-matching institution. This dystopian story is not won by the resistance. It is simply the lovers —who will always live long and be fertile like a lobster.
Title : The Lobster
Director : Yorgos Lanthimos
Production : Element Pictures, Scarlet Films, Faliro House Productions
Written by : Efthimis Filippou, Yorgos Lanthimos
Produced by : Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Yorgos Lanthimos, Lee Magiday
Starring : Collin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Lea Seydoux, Jessica Barden, Angeliki Papoulia
t : @saint_inang