The Lobster

I'm still not sure how this film got released without boycotts from animal rights activists - the opening scene is a woman killing a horse, and later on a dog is savagely beaten to death by a vicious woman devoid of emotions. The dog just so happens to be the protagonist's brother, and the woman is the protagonist's perfect 'match'. It sounds mad, because it is.

I'll explain. It's the near future, and David (Colin Farrell) has separated from his wife. In this dystopian future, single people have 45 days to find a partner or they are metamorphised into their chosen animal and cast off into the wild for the rest of their lives, so David checks into a specialist matchmaking hotel. David's brother went to the same hotel but didn't make it, hence the aforementioned dog. David would like to be a lobster if he fails to pair off, hence the title. Via astonishingly terse conversations regarding sexual preferences and regular hunts for loners roaming in the woods, David meets his match, The Short Sighted Woman (Rachel Weisz) but it's not a painless romance.

There’s a flagrant homage to George Orwell’s 1984: David stays in Room 101 at the hotel, identical uniforms of suits and dresses are given to male and female guests respectively upon arrival, and the hotel manager, played by the excellent Olivia Colman, is something of a Big Brother character who condemns actions which support individual satisfaction, even going as far as burning a guest's hand in a toaster to punish him for masturbating in his room. She and her husband like to hammer home the importance of companionship, strapping one of the guest's hands behind their backs on their first night to anchor their understanding of the need for pairs rather than singles.

The humour is extremely dark and satirical, bordering on outrageous depending on your disposition. Some of the funniest moments come because of brilliantly impassive manner the actors deliver the lines. Occasionally you laugh because other reactions are inadequate, because the film is so averse to the norms and values that have developed in the industry (emotion, pleasantry, compassion) it consequently drops you into a state of befuddlement that replaces your instinct to recoil in disapproval with a snort.

The Lobster is a completely unique and bizarre experience, and relentlessly so. The monotonous mood of the characters is heightened by the minimalist modernity of The City, but juxtaposed with dramatic orchestral music reminiscent of Manhattan. It presents a new, surreal form of sexuality and an alternative take on the concept of romantic relationships, drawing on Western society's obsession with finding The One and distorting the consensus of monogamy.

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