The main thing is just that it’s a comedy, and I guess you’ll find it funny or you won’t. I loved it. To complain about the simplicity of the drama doesn’t make sense to me because the relationship dynamics are kept simple at least partly because the actual premise is slightly complicated, and at its core The Lobster is essentially a fable - a sort of fucked up fable about the basics of relationship dynamics with bizarre sexual jokes and a very unique brand of humor. People here don’t emote normally, they’re not quite as stoic as Dogtooth, but you can almost imagine that….if a fable is meant to impart a lesson, this lesson in The Lobster is made for and by aliens observing the human race, asking “What do human relationships look like? Who is suitable for each other? Why don’t they work?”
These questions are answered in a deliberately reductive way, and what the above review regards as trite platitudes are humorous precisely because they are. The movie isn’t trying to pass one over on you and tell you the observations are deep. It’s funny because it’s not deep (but at the same time it is).
The rules of The Lobster’s world aren’t difficult to follow, but they’re voluminous enough that you have to pay some attention in the setup and you’re constantly gleaning little details about how this world works as the story evolves. Part of the pleasure of the movie is buying into its fantastical rules, which you learn a little more of from time to time, and the comedy that results from your expectations built into them. That’s really the movie. If the relationships were too subtle you’d get lost, and there are a fair number of characters to follow, too. Again, fable, not Mike Leigh movie. Bad fucking examples but Rapunzel’s relationship dynamics don’t have a ton of nuance and Hansel and Gretel aren’t psychological puzzle boxes, either. The tone of those stories doesn’t make for that.
The 90s/00’s mention is interesting because it did
remind me of that era, but in a really, really good way, a way I miss and was ecstatic to see again, and not at all in the mode that that person described. I think it’s because Lanthimos’ world was so hermetically sealed and I believed in it, was able to fully suspend disbelief for the story. A friend of mine thinks narrative movies aren’t as popular now in comparison to documentaries and reality shows because they’re just harder to buy into in our current reality. I wish I could explain this better but I agree with it, and The Lobster took me back to a time when investing in someone else’s imaginary creation wasn’t as hard to do.
As far as being aesthetically hackneyed — that I just-don’t-get. It takes place at a countryside getaway, at a sort of hotel, it looks like a countryside getaway and a sort of hotel. I honestly don’t know what he’s talking about here. Is it too cute for him? The idea that people turn into animals? Is that making him hate normal production design?
The movie is incredibly well shot, and it’s not just that it has a deliberate, consistent style, but there’s tons of variance in the individual compositions.
And the jokes... that line about having kids was so cringe-makingly on-the-nose I can't believe anyone would cite it positively“I can’t believe anyone would find it funny.” / “I can’t believe anyone would cite it positively.”
<— which person is going to be more likely to laugh?
Parting note, if you find this funny you might like it:
“Want to hear a poem I wrote?
I love you, you love me…
going down the sugar tree.
We'll go down the sugar tree…
and see lots of bees…
But the bees won't sting…
because you love me.
“That’s fucking great man.”