Social Circus

Spoilers Alert
FEMALE VOICE-OVER
He was thinking his wife didn't love him at all anymore. 
He didn't burst into  tears and he didn't think 
that the first thing most people do when they realise 
someone doesn't love them anymore, is cry.

This monologue is from the movie “The Lobster” starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, written by Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis FilippouYorgos Lanthimos also being the director of this weirdly romantic motion picture. The story is about society’s uncanny obsession with relationships and is setup in a dystopian near future where according to the laws of the city, any single person either by choice or circumstances is sent to a hotel, where they have to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or else they will be transformed into animals of their choosing or liking and will be released into the wild. 

When the above monologue is narrated, David (Colin Farrell) is dressed in a light grey shirt and cloud coloured pants,  donned with a charcoal coloured blazer and brown leather shoes. He didn’t burst into tears as the monologue says so, but the colour of his apparel tells a different tale altogether. He has embraced himself with the color grey, the non-emotional, indifferent, isolated, depressed, lonely and lifeless tinge and adding to it the sad and depressing brown. It is the color which subdues the emotions and creates a safe haven where one feels secure from the stresses of the outside world. A quietly confident color but is never the life of the party. These two colors not only sums up the character of David but also contours the motif of the movie.

When David moves into the hotel, he is presented with four identical grey trousers and four identical button-down shirts in white and blue and other accoutrements. Apart from a calm, compassionate and expansive feel of the color blue it also connotes to sadness, depression, and aloofness while white evokes purification of thoughts, gives a mental clarity and enables fresh beginnings; things which the single people are in search for in the hotel. Pay a close attention to the background too which also plays an integral role to carry the story along; the dull and dry brown denoting to the color in the woods where the hotel residents hunt the escaped single people who have fled their animal fate with their tranquilizer guns to win themselves more days at the hotel and finding their romantic partner accompanied by the  blended emotions of the unsure blue and the quixotic white.

Art can be intimate, it can show signs of disturbance, sometimes subtle, at times emotional and stirring and then there is art which is left empty and hollow. And in this movie, the artist’s intention is for us to fill that hollowness and void with our own colour.

-Hunting with tranquilizer rifles and winning more days to find romance is an absolute sardonic jab at the modern-day romance occurring through dating websites on daily basis. It’s a shame that people will go to any extent to find a partner and by doing so they obliterate their own existence. The dating websites use an algorithm which promises to match you with someone similar (a potential life partner), but I think they are forgetting the old and proven fact that it’s the opposite poles which are attracted to each other, not the similar ones. The irony is that people still fall for the trap and buy themselves more time by paying to this boojie online dating world.

NOSEBLEED WOMAN 
I think your nose is bleeding. 

LIMPING MAN 
Really? Oh no, not again. This happens to me all the time. It’s very,
very annoying.

NOSEBLEED WOMAN 
I know. I have a nosebleed problem too.

In the evening, the Limping Man visits David’s room to have a chat.

DAVID 
What’s the matter?

LIMPING MAN 
I want to talk to you. 

DAVID 
Have a seat.

LIMPING MAN 
I came to say goodbye. 

DAVID 
I saw what you did. It must have hurt. 
The man bangs his nose against the wall 
and it bleeds. 

LIMPING MAN 
I’m going to ask you a question and I want you to answer me honestly. 
What’s worse, to die of cold and hunger in the woods, 
to become an animal that will be killed and 
eaten by some bigger animal, or to have a 
nosebleed from time to time? 

DAVID 
To become an animal that will be killed and 
eaten by some bigger animal. 

LIMPING MAN 
Exactly. 

DAVID 
She doesn’t suspect that you’re lying? 

LIMPING MAN 
No. He hugs David. He stains his shirt with blood. 

LIMPING MAN (CONT’D)
Don’t worry about your shirt. Rub it with salt or scrub it 
with ammonia and it’ll come out right away
but whatever you do, don’t use hot water. 
Goodnight.

The next day the Hotel Manager announces that they have a new couple perfectly suited for each other. My point here is the extent (which I mentioned earlier) to which a person can go to. Isn’t it that the relationships on the dating websites start with a lie too?  You create an online avatar who rarely resembles the true you, but it certainly captures the nuances of the opposite sex for a better match or more precisely a similar match. 

David too follows the Limping man’s way and tries to hook up with the Heartless Woman. He wins her over by pretending to be a heartless and ruthless man but the Heartless Woman’s suspicion grows with time and she starts observing him carefully if he actually is the perfect match or is it all pretentiousness. In the morning, he finds her standing beside his bed, her leg covered in blood telling David that she killed his brother (the dog) by kicking him and letting him die slowly. David pretends to stay indifferent but as he goes to the bathroom, he sees the dog lying dead on the floor in his blood. He tries to be devoid of any emotions but couldn’t and bursts into tears. The Heartless Woman slaps him and ends the relationship with him.

The essence of the movie depicts loneliness, the desolate states that the characters endure, the inextricable void and the estrange feelings that haunt them, all astoundingly captured by the camera lens.

During this brief encounter between these two characters, David dealt with the pain and sufferings of other humans (the woman who committed suicide and him being rude to the child). But, when it came to the dog he couldn’t hold his emotions back and showed his sympathetic and human side. This specific scene reminds me of the atrocities of war, the act of child labor and abuse and we as individuals being insensitive towards these issues and the sufferers altogether. The disconnect from each other in spite of living in the same society is trivial to the human race but an entirely different reaction and emotion towards their animal friend seems like the only humane relationship we have now. Maybe we need to start questioning ourselves for such a tragic and disturbing discrimination.

Moving along, David escapes from the hotel and meets a group of loners in the wood. Only couples are allowed to visit the city and the loners have to pretend to be in a relationship every time they have to travel to the city. What’s this irrepressible urge of the society wanting to see you in the metrics of twos; and if you are not, look out for the eerie clouds of eyes hovering you with doubts and disbelief. Don’t believe me? Apply for a home loan as a single and independent man or woman and see if you can get it. Don’t forget to send me the address once your loan gets passed, I wouldn’t mind sending you a postcard.

The minimalist approach to the cinematography gives the film this empty feeling which the characters required to breathe in. There are wide shots from different angles which not only focuses on the protagonists but also the milieu in which the characters are harboring. The essence of the movie depicts loneliness, the desolate states that the characters endure, the inextricable void and the estrange feelings that haunt them, all astoundingly captured by the camera lens. While the melodramatic music also doesn’t fail to make the emptiness run through your bones.

David and the ShortSighted Woman (Rachel Weisz) fall in love when they discover that both of them are shortsighted and they plan to run away from the loners camp. The Loner Leader finds out and makes the ShortSighted Woman blind. They still elope from the camp and comes to the city. While sitting at a restaurant David asks for a steak knife and tells the ShortSighted Woman that “I am going to do it” and heads towards the toilets. He looks at himself in the mirror, raises his knife, bringing it closer to his eye, but couldn’t do it. The ShortSighted Woman is still sitting at the table waiting for him. Cars go by outside the front window of the restaurant and even a couple is seen passing by. The scene lasts for a while and then the screen turns black followed by a melancholic song played in a visceral way. 

The Lobster opens up the locks to debate about the stereotyped ideologies. The horror of being vulnerable while socially secluded and the tragedy of becoming vulnerable when in a relationship are tellingly  orchestrated in the movie. The film has a dry and satirical tone of defining the human relationships and the social circus we all dwell in. The flat toned narrative of the movie is simple and witty and at times hilarious. Nothing less than an insighful and weirdly joyful escapade.

-Art can be intimate, it can show signs of disturbance, sometimes subtle, at times emotional and stirring and then there is art which is left empty and hollow. And in this movie, the artist’s intention is for us to fill that hollowness and void with our own colour.

When the Limping Man asks David, what’s worse, to die of cold and hunger in the woods, to become an animal that will be killed and eaten by some bigger animal, or to have a nosebleed from time to time? David answers, “to become an animal that will be killed and eaten by some bigger animal.”  This honest answer from David clearly shows that he was afraid of dying alone, which takes us to the ending of the movie whether he made himself blind or he fled? Let’s say he did it and they lived happily ever after. But if he fled away, you question his morality by deeming him as selfish who left his blind partner all to herself. Or let’s put it this way that relationships are complex and that’s why a few smart people end up in one.

Anyways, next time while you are having dinner at a fancy restaurant, rather than ordering romantic and sentimental stakes, be happy to devour a Lobster (David’s animal of choosing) that is often poached alive “before its brain gets sucked out by greasy human lips.”


Photo Credit: AllenRan  Flickr (Creative Commons)

 

 

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