Spared or Spoiled Movie Reviews: The Lobster

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

“You can be a loner until the day you die. There is no time limit.”

From someone who spends most of their time alone, and has made peace with the fact that they’ll probably be alone forever, this movie is really fucking depressing.

The Lobster (Picturehouse Entertainment)

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

Written by Efthimis Filippou & Yorgos Lanthimos

Starring Colin FarrellRachel WeiszJessica BardenOlivia ColmanAshley JensenAriane LabedAngeliki PapouliaJohn C. ReillyLéa SeydouxMichael Smiley & Ben Whishaw

This movie made me uncomfortable. The Lobster has a few funny moments. A few laugh out loud, what-the-fuck moments. But mostly it’s just cringe-worthy and violent and unwatchable. I guess you have to get the joke. The whole thing about society requiring that humans pair off. And how being alone gets you ostracized. And I guess that’s the case… I guess. In the Lobster this is way way waaaaaaaaaaay over the top with single people being reassigned to live their lives as the animal of their choice (basically an execution). But as “one of the lonely people” I just took all this nonsensical forced pairing crap and ignored it as less of an allegory on our society and more of a plot point about their absurd fictional one. So once that whole part of the movie is disregarded as not being a distorted reflection of us, but a wholesale fiction, then all that’s left of The Lobster is violence and bad behavior and a lack of empathy bordering on the psychotic. It’s not funny. It’s more disturbing than anything resembling funny and it made me incredibly uncomfortable. Let me explain why this movie is depressing and awkwardly unfunny with many many spoilers.

Verdict: SPOILED

SPOILER ALERT!!!

The Lobster is the story of three locations in a dark parallel universe. This doesn’t represent our future. It’s not our future because nothing is more advanced than what we have. In fact the movie is ultra-low-tech. The City, a place where anyone walking alone is asked to show proof that they are in a relationship or are shipped off to the second location. The Hotel, a disturbing concentration camp where the newly single have 45 days to find “love” or get reassigned as an animal (this is basically execution but I guess the story was violent enough) unless of course they can escape to the third location. The Forest, outside of the city, where escapees from The Hotel live as refugees and also where the singles from The Hotel go to hunt down and kill single people to gain one extra day of existence as an unmarried, single human being imprisoned at a sadistic hotel. This is some dark and annoyingly unfunny, absurdist crap.

The Lobster is outrageously violent (like Logan violent) but the filmmakers take pains to show women being the aggressors towards men and not the other way around. Everyone is thirsty. Thirsty for sex. Thirsty for love. And thirsty for blood. At one point a woman, describe in the film as being heartless (but not particularly any more heartless than the other awful characters), kicks a dog to death in order to prove that her lover has emotional feelings for his pet. It’s disgusting and well over-the-top. At one point a woman who runs the refugee camp in the forest blinds another woman for having the gall to fall in love with a man at her singles enclave. This is pointless and cruel. The Lobster is full of pointless cruelty that is only sometimes funny. Dark violent humor that seems more like misplaced anger toward an ex? (who hurt you, Yorgos?)

Guests at the hotel are subjected to forced sexual arousal but restricted from masturbation. This would have been funny except that the punishment for getting caught masturbating is having your fingers burnt off in a toaster. But The Lobster is not all bad. Rachel Weisz is heartbreaking and brilliant as a hotel escapee. And in the middle of this violent nightmare, there is a touching romance between Colin “Hotel Guest” Farrell and Rachel “Refugee” Weisz. Or “un-touching” romance, because they’re not allowed to touch. It is cute and romantic as they make up their own silent language so as not to get caught having a relationship. But this beautiful part of the movie gets lost in all the bleak, violent stuff surrounding it.

One of the actually funny themes moving through The Lobster is the idea that all relationships are built on some common trait. The two leads share a similar visual malady. Other couples can both sing. Or they both have limps. Or both get nose bleeds. Or absolutely anything else. But it’s never about love. This gets blown further and further out of proportion when the main character decides to blind himself in order to stay with the female lead who was made blind earlier in the film. He loves her already but believes that they can’t be together unless they are both blind. It is absurd. And it’s supposed to be funny. But as he directs the steak knife into his eyeball, it did not make me laugh. It made me uncomfortable. Maybe it’s just me but blinding yourself with a steak knife for love is not even a little bit funny.

There are, however, a couple of jokes that hit home. And a couple of themes that resonate. Like when the lonely older woman who is sweet and sexy but depressed because she doesn’t want to die (live as an animal… whatever), throws herself, awkwardly but sweetly at the main character. She’s smart. She’s funny. She tells him all this stuff she’ll do sexually but he ignores her because he instead wants the younger girl who would eventually beat his dog to death. Or the even younger girl with the nose bleeds. This is funny, poignant, and depressingly accurate, as he ignores this possible loving relationship for two horrible… younger women. And there’s this great joke where couples who are having problems are assigned children because that always makes it better. But then the sexy older woman later tries to kill herself and this too would be powerful if she had jumped from a higher floor. But she doesn’t. And she lands on her face and lies there screaming in a pool of her own blood for five minutes of screen time. Wailing and screaming in pain while our hero chats up the future dog murderer. This is also supposed to be funny. This is about as funny as Donald Trump being president.

The Lobster masquerades as a commentary on how our society values people in relationships over those who don’t mind the loneliness of being single. And the movie illustrates this point when guests at the hotel are shown a pantomime of a lonely man dying alone. With no one to give him the Heimlich maneuver, he chokes on his food. Then the guests are shown a situation where a woman walking by herself (in what has been established as an incredibly cruel fictional world) is being sexually harassed and then raped, with no one to come to her aid.

The Lobster isn’t so much making fun of these societal tropes and traditions of the spinster and the hermit and the fear of dying alone as much as it’s reinforcing them. Yet it’s not this heavy-handed loner bashing that’s the biggest problem with the film. It’s the cruelty of every single one of its characters. None of these people are lovable. Not one. The married people suck. The single people suck. Even the animals are complete dicks. Honestly, I was ready for some quality entertainment when in the first scene a woman gets out of her car and shoots a horse in what is obviously a fit of jealous rage based on personal pain inflicted on her by that particular animal. It is an hysterically funny moment and I’m thinking, Great! this is going to be a good movie. No. It just declines from there. It just gets more violent from there. More animals being killed and people being mutilated for masturbating.

The Lobster is a cruel violent movie. Filled with cruel violent characters. Desperately seeking cruel and violent misguided love connections. And even though it can be mildly entertaining sometimes. Most of the time, The Lobster just made me feel uncomfortable. Uncomfortably sad and lonely… and that’s not why we go to the movies.

– Mel

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The Gripes of Wrath

You ever have one of those moments where you feel like everything is perfect with every fiber of your being? Like it doesn’t get any better than this. Just bottle that moment.

Freeze it. (click)

Perfect.

Or you ever have one of those days, weeks or months where you’re thinking my god what else could go wrong? Like somebody up there must hate you.

I have this friend. Girl friend. I’ve known her forever.

She…

hates…

everything.

I know a lot of people say that, but this girl means it. she hates everything and everyone that anyone else likes. If it’s popular or main stream or just good, she can’t stand it. I’m not just talking, Twilight, Bieber, Gaga and stuff that’s easy to hate. That’s crap and everybody knows it. I’m talking about Ice Cream, Christmas, Sex, you know, the big ones.

Puppies. I could say “Look at these puppies. Cute little puppies look at those little faces.”

She’d say “Those puppies are trying too hard. please take them away.”

It’s not even like she has a reason or any kind of rationale. She just wants to be the queen of contrariness. But I love her. (and I’m sure she hates that)

I never had sex with her. Though I wanted to… (I am a guy) but the prospect of her hating my penis just ruined it. She’d be like “I love you and all that… It’s just your penis. I’m over your penis… I’m going to have to ask you to take it out of me now. I never want to see it again… It’s just trying too hard to be… sexy… and it’s too popular.”

I’m not dating at the moment. I wouldn’t even know what to do on a date. I’m an embarrassment at the theater. I’m the guy that laughs when I see the joke coming. You know, before the punchline. I see it coming and it’s going to be funny and that’s the point when I find it funny. So that’s when I laugh. Why do I have to wait? Everyone is quiet and then I’m cracking up hysterically. A few seconds later everyone else is laughing.

“Have you seen this before?”

“Nope. Just saw the joke coming a mile away.”

“You know that’s annoying, right?”

“yeah… I do.”

“Then maybe you should wait to laugh with the rest of us.”

Dinner dates are even worse because I eat really really fast. Learned it when I was a kid. Dinner with the family was brutal. I can’t stand my family. They all had the same favorite pastime; abusing me mercilessly.

Fast as I could shovel the food into my mouth. whoomp. Done.

“I’m finish. Can I get away from you crazy motherfuckers now? Please? Thank you.”

So when I go out to dinner I have to consciously pace myself. I’m talking, listening. I don’t even touch my fork.

“Aren’t you gonna eat your fish, spaghetti, whatever the fuck it is?”

Whoomp

“Damn did you even taste that?”

And then the explanation. We spend the next few minutes of the meal talking about my childhood. “My step monster used to beat the shit out of me. My mom was a pathological liar and mentally abusive. My older brother was an asshole who knew how to push my buttons but not how to take my side. So what do you do? for a living?”

It works out though because with the way I eat I have great teeth. Always have. Don’t even floss that much. Because I never use them. I just mash the food with the roof of my mouth and swallow it whole (whoomp whoomp whoomp whoomp whoomp) My teeth don’t even touch.

I am not a good date. But I’ve never really had healthy romantic relations with women. My mom kind of screwed me up. Thought it would be different when I started dating guys. But it was the same thing… just with two penises.

My mother would creep into my room at night when I was a little boy and whisper “Don’t get any girls pregnant. Don’t get any girls pregnant.”  That was her biggest concern. She was a teen mom herself so she thought she’d do her part to reduce that problem in society by brainwashing her son with hypnotic suggestion or whatever the fuck that was. And then, get this, she has the nerve to ask me why she doesn’t have any grand kids… You said don’t get any girls pregnant. You never specified an age limit!  This is why we leave brainwashing to the professionals, mom.

I don’t know if you can tell, but I suck at life.

YES.

I totally suck at life. But… life blows… so it equals out.

You’d think, being a loser to the SUBSTANTIAL DEGREE THAT I AM that I wouldn’t have an enormous ego. But I have a huge fucking ego.

It’s tremendous.

With absolutely nothing to back it up.

No accomplishments, no money, barely graduated High School, did not finish college, no job, even when I have a job, it’s a shit job. Either working for some kid half my age or… some sort of shaved monkey, Got no girlfriend, no boyfriend, I got no marketable skills whatsoever. But I got this big fucking ego. My ego’s got its own zip code. Doesn’t even take my calls, some days. It’s fucking huge. And there’s no call for it. Add the sad fact that I have absolutely no social skills and my ego seems terribly out of place.

My therapist is fond of saying that I have an inflated sense of self worth.

INFLATED SENSE OF SELF WORTH.

I like the sound of that.

I want to put those words in flashing neon above my head for all the world to see as I walk down the street.

Look at me world. I have an INFLATED SENSE OF SELF WORTH! You’re welcome.

I’ve had a pretty shitty existence (relatively) and I just rolled with it. Whole lot of crap from the people I trusted. Beaten down by life, family, friends, fucktards but I just rolled with it. Some days it felt like everybody was just waiting to take a swing at me. Rolled. It got to the point where I just stopped rolling. Said, FUCK IT, you can beat me until your arms get tired, until you forget why you hate me, until we’re both embarrassed and then you just leave me the fuck alone. I mean I’m constantly being shit upon. Why not just give in.

You need a punching bag? I am your punching bag.

Once I gave up on the plans, the dreams, the wants and desires, I expected the shit parts to go away as well. Since they were predicated upon the crushing of my dreams.

But life is still shit. It just became a lot easier to deal with. And the good parts, the rare good days and perfect moments, were a hell of a lot sweeter. Mostly because I wasn’t thinking, “This is the way it should be everyday.” “I deserve this.” but my attitude became more like “This is pretty fucking special. I know I’ll be knee-deep in shit tomorrow so I’m going to enjoy this right now.” I realized that the plans, the dreams, the fantasy, that’s not my life. My life is the disappointments. Life is the shit. The shit that happens to me that fucks up my life is my life.

And I know everybody’s life sucks to varying degrees but we don’t want to believe that our shit score is actually even par. That this is the way life is. We believe that we’re below average. But this is the norm and those beautiful joyous moments are gifts to be cherished that become less and less rare the more we appreciate them for what they are.

And it’s because of that guy. And everybody knows that guy. It’s the same fucking guy. That… always happy, always lucky, always makes the train on time, everything goes his way… scumbag. That’s the guy making us think “That’s the way life is supposed to be.”

or “Why can’t everything go my way like that guy?”

“My plumbing’s messed up. My car won’t start. My cat’s sick. WIPE THAT SMILE OFF YOUR FACE YOU LUCKY FUCK.”

But we all hold up that guy’s life like that’s the norm and we’re all living something… less than. But the truth is; That guy’s a freak of nature… and should be treated as such.

What we should say is, “So I hear you just hit the lottery on the same day you got a raise, a promotion and your wife told you she’s okay with a three-way and to add to that you got the last jelly donuts… That’s kind of fucked up, man. Everyone else I know has money problems. Ted’s grandmother’s sick. Bob’s got parking tickets, might do some jail time, Daniel’s wife is cheating on him… I don’t know what you’re living, my friend, but that’s not life. I feel sorry for you, all that smiling must get… old. Hey, maybe you’ll stub your toe on the way back to your corner office.” Fingers crossed “Break a leg, man. really… break a leg.”

So once I got comfortable with what life was and what life is… basically a constant string of disappointments, wrapped in shit, delivered C.O.D. by a pissed off postal worker who knew me in High School and hates me personally… it was all good. And all I really had to do was find some way to fill the time between perfect moments.

I choose to fill it with compassion and respect for others and staying as far away from my relatives as I possibly can. And that’s worked out pretty well.

So as it turns out I don’t stink at life as much as I thought.

Suck it bitches.

– Wrath (Pride)