A Rhino, a Bison, or a Peacock: The Lobster Movie Review

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Hannah Norman, Staff Writer

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Seven years ago, before I became a self-proclaimed movie snob, I was stuck in a genre: the superhero genre. Well, in truth, “stuck” is not the phrase I would use to describe my previous situation; rather, I think it would be accurate to say I was suffering from an acute spout of self-induced Stockholm syndrome born of my naturally stubborn disposition, during which I fell in love with my superhero captors. Nevertheless, it all began the moment I popped The Avengers into the TV during the summer of 2012, and at the ripe old age of 10 years old, I decided I would never again, under any circumstance, watch a movie that did not fall within the rather narrow genre of caped crusaders.

Clearly, I was not nearly as steadfast in that decision as I thought because the other day I found myself, almost seven years later, turning on some sea-floor-crustacean-named indie film about an unconventional romance within a dystopian society. More specifically, and according to the experts at iTunes, The Lobster follows “a love story set in the near future where single people, according to the rules of The City, are arrested and transferred to The Hotel. There they are obliged to find a matching mate within 45 days. If they fail, they are transformed into an animal of their choosing and released into The Woods.”

What the brief yet strangely informative plot synopsis fails to illuminate, however, are the many eccentricities intrinsic to understanding—or, if comprehension is a lost cause, at least appreciating—The Lobster. For one, Yorgos Lanthimos, the director, gifts viewers with such riveting characters as, and I quote from the credits, “Nosebleed Woman” and “Bob the Dog.” The odd thing about these unique names is that Lanthimos gave each character these literally descriptive titles on purpose. Within The Hotel, each guest is tasked with finding a suitable partner who shares one defining similar characteristic in order to reenter society (e.g. Nosebleed Woman must find someone with an affinity for nosebleeds). If unsuccessful, as in the case with the main character David’s brother Bob, the guest will be turned into an animal (e.g. Bob the Dog). David—who opted to become, you guessed it, a lobster—simply does not vibe with this lifestyle of highly-encouraged marriage and wanders off into The Woods, stumbling upon a group of other runaway singles, appropriately named The Loners, who, in complete contradiction to The City, forbid love and any and all relationships.

Lanthimos woos his viewers with bizarre dialogue (e.g. “We dance alone. That’s why we only play electronic music.”), strangely-charming characters, and incredibly dry humor throughout the film. And to be frank, because of these unique characteristics, you will either love The Lobster—like me—or really, really hate it. Regardless of the outcome, I implore you to give Lanthimos a chance. The Lobster might be the word “weird” incarnate, but it also acts as a spyglass into a future dictated by forced societal conformity on the threat of losing your humanity. Each absurd scene, one after the other, drowns the viewer in what-if questions and other-worldly scenarios that happily dance the fine line between plausible and outlandish. Even the scene transitions of beautifully shot landscapes within The Woods often contain strange animals wandering across the screen—I seem to remember a llama haphazardly grazing in the background at a certain point—that appear quite natural and normal at first until you remember that llamas don’t live in forests and that that llama in particular was at one point a human being.

The Lobster left me with two major questions of my own: (1) Does it take place in an alternate reality or a dystopian future? and (2) Am I supposed to be laughing at David’s peculiar situation or fearing for my own? In the minutes following the ending credits, I pondered these two questions in my already fuddled mind, and I eventually came to a startling conclusion: in my four years here at Vis, I have not taken a date to a dance once. And even though I still stand firmly by my past decisions (I am proudly my own stag-queen), in this alternate reality / dystopian future, my conduct simply would not stand, and I would most definitely be turned into an animal. So, I took an online quiz, and apparently if I end up alone, my animal of choice should be either a rhino, a bison, or a peacock. More so surprised than disappointed, I cannot help but shed a single tear for the chimpanzee I have always longed to become, but the internet has spoken, and apparently, I am destined to inhabit one of those three creatures. What animal, if any at all, would you be?