by Bonnie Anderson and Dan Webster
This is one of the most bizarre films we’ve ever seen.
To say the least, it’s quirky and at many times during the film it’s hard to figure out. Filmgoers are left to follow this film without much explanation, but there are clues along the way.
Watching this film brought occasional flashbacks of ‘Fahrenheit 451’ and ‘Gattaca.’ But those movies had a story arc. ‘Lobster’ seems to be the alternate universe version of ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ but at least there were laughs in that film. ‘Lobster’ offered some chuckles but mostly groans.
Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz seem to try to get into character but playing a flat affect, laconic human being doesn’t impress. It’s supposed to be a love story in a dystopian future where single people are sent to a hotel to find partners.
If you don’t find a mate within a certain designated period of time, you will become an animal of your choice. It’s all set up. The hotel’s sole purpose is for men and women looking for a mate. Prescribed games and skits about the advantages of being with a mate are provided for hotel guests. But there is inside information. David (Farrell) has 45 days to find his match. It’s either that, or be transformed into a lobster (his animal of choice).
Those who escape the hotel are called loners and become hunted by hotel residents. If they’re shot with a dart gun they’re returned to the hotel for transformation into an animal not of their choosing.
Farrell and Weisz’s characters fall in love. But even that’s against the rules among the loners. For instance, partners to be, must have something in common. Being “short-sighted” qualifies and all you have to do is find someone who has the same malady. See what we mean?
As the loners live in the forest there’s the occasional glimpse of animals who used to be hotel guests wandering through the woods – a flamingo, a dromedary, peacock and a pony who once was a potential partner for David, but didn’t make it.
If people of faith are looking for something in this film they may confirm humanity’s capability for abject evil. It’s hard to find any redeeming characters. Dystopia could not get much worse.
Even within this far-fetched scenario, and with great effort, love wins. So we see God again, showing a sense of humor, reminding us love is all around, all the time. As the blues duet Mickey and Sylvia used to sing, “Love is Strange.” You will believe that if you see this film.
Bonnie Anderson is a very active lay leader in her parish, diocese and in the wider Episcopal Church. She is an experienced community organizer and lives in suburban Detroit. Dan Webster is an Episcopal priest in Baltimore, Maryland and a former broadcast news executive. But don’t expect only east coast urban perspectives here. As it turns out, they both grew up in Southern California. They blog about films and faith at Faith Reels