What Would You Do for Love?


Title: The Lobster

Rating: 4 Stars

This will not be everyone’s cup of tea. This is one of those movies (I’ve written about this before) where I’m faintly amazed that someone was pitched this idea and was like, sounds great, can I write you a million dollar check right now to go out and make it?

Citizens of a city that are single (either through death or separation) are checked into a hotel. They have 45 days to find a mate. If they don’t find a mate within 45 days, they will be somehow transformed into an animal of their choosing. Our protagonist David, abandoned by his wife, chooses a lobster (they can live for 100 years and are sexually active the entire time). He brings with him his brother, who now happens to be a dog.

The residents of the hotel can increase their stay at the hotel by going out on hunts and tranquilizing The Lonely, feral people who live in the woods.

The movie follows David as he tries to meet a mate at the hotel, and then later as he integrates in with The Lonely and ultimately falls in love there.

This is clearly a parable about modern romance. As someone recently separated, I have to admit that this movie sung to me.

Everyone at the hotel is known for something. That is usually how they’re even referred to. For example, there is a lisping man, a limping man, a nosebleed woman, and a heartless woman.

Each person tries to match with someone based upon that one characteristic. For example, the limping man is momentarily excited to see a woman who also limps. Alas, she only has a temporary sprain, so there is no match.

This reminds of someone that I used to know that used OKCupid. He had a whole list of interests (think Star Wars and Legos). When he was looking for OKCupid matches, that’s what he tried to match on. She’s not interested in Legos, so she must not be for me. This ignores the whole serendipitous idea of romantic attraction. If all you can select for are parameters, then you logically narrow your selection down to those parameters, completely ignoring the woman that might be perfect for you, even if she doesn’t really like Legos.

The whole move had, intentionally, flat and stilted dialog and emotion. There was no romance here. There was no love in the air. These are people grimly going through the process of finding themselves a mate.

In some cases, desperate measures are called for. The limping man started regularly banging his head against tables to induce a bloody nose so that the nosebleed woman would notice him and think they are a match. David, with his days dwindling, pretends to be heartless and remorseless to find a match with the heartless woman. When the heartless woman finds out that he’s faking, it sets off the chain of events that leads to David abandoning the hotel and joining with The Loners.

The Loners themselves are a strange sect. They willingly will take in anyone. However, no romantic relationships can be formed there. If the leader suspects a couple of even flirting, there are dire punishments.

It is here that David meets The Shorted Sighted Woman (Rachel Wiesz). David himself wears glasses, so naturally of course, he becomes attracted to her. The two fall in love and desperately try to keep their relationship from the Loner Leader. However, the Loner Leader does suspect them, and knowing that it is their shared nearsightedness that bonds them, arranges to blind the Short Sighted Woman.

Predictably in this universe, despite their best efforts, the romance begins to cool between David and the now blinded woman.

Aware of this, David offers to blind himself so that once again they can share a common characteristic. The final scene is the blind woman sitting patiently at a table while David is in the bathroom psyching himself up to stab a steak knife into each eye.

What would you do for love?



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