6 January 2015 | bob the moo
Perhaps too still and odd, but still touching in its themes of aging relationships and the transition from partners to dependent/carer
An elderly fisherman spends his mornings catching lobsters. Pulling one from its cage to band its claws, he is surprised by a moment of intimacy between him and the lobster. Thus begins an odd relationship.
To say Caterwaul is an odd film that is hard to define is really to stand in a blizzard and say it looks like snow. The film essentially portrays this relationship between the man and the growing lobster; with the former more and more looking after the latter. To look at any few seconds of it, it appears to be some sort of weird horror movie (indeed in many reviews of this David Cronenberg's name is mentioned) but there isn't horror in the traditional sense. Instead the film is very much about the difficulty of an aging couple, where one takes on the role of carer with the knowledge that at some point that will become too much for them.
There is a certain beauty in how this plays out, and the oddity somehow draws you into this in a way that maybe just a straight telling would not. At the same time I must confess that I did not totally fall in love with this relationship and mostly this was because the lobster was limited in its expression of affection. Key scenes help this, particularly anything involving the eyes – which are well done on the actor and the puppet. The stillness of the piece does lend itself to the smaller moments and, although I do think they could have drawn more from this to effect the viewer more, it does do solid work and it heads towards a pained and silent conclusion.
It will be too still and odd for many viewers – and I do not say that as a "too highbrow for you" snob, because I partly include myself in that camp because not all of it worked for me either. It does have a pained beauty to it, and ultimately if you bring something relevant to the table then probably the themes and meaning will impact to a greater extent than perhaps it did I.