Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster is maybe the most romantic movie of the year. Or maybe it’s the most depressing. Or perhaps it’s the funniest. Actually, it’s all of those things. Lanthimos’ pitch-dark comedy is a smorgasbord of human emotions – perfectly reflecting the highs and lows of relationships and the single life.
In the future, it’s illegal to be single. David (Colin Farrell) is left by his wife, and immediately after the breakup he’s whisked away on a bus with his brother, a dog, to a “hotel.” At this hotel David has 45 days to find a match. If he doesn’t find a woman to be with, then he’ll be turned into an animal of his choosing. David, if it comes down to it, wants to become a lobster, because of their long lifespans and his affinity for the sea. Being the nice and sensitive type, he quickly makes friends – Lisping Man (John C. Reilly) and Limping Man (Ben Whishaw) – but has no luck finding a match. For reasons that should go unspoiled, David ends up escaping the hotel, living with the “loners,” a group that lives in the woods, led by Léa Seydoux, rebelling against the laws of relationships, while enforcing strict rules of their own.
Dating, living the life of a loner, and a committed relationship all have their ups and downs, and that’s what Lanthimos and his co-writer Efthymis Filippou are exploring: all sides of the connections we do or don’t share with someone. The Lobster is about more than that, though. This script is dense, and what the film has to say, it says with total hilarity and gorgeous images – and this film has a lot to say.
Why do we feel the need to be with someone? Is it a personal desire or, because of society’s rules, we all feel like we have to find the “one?” There is no right or wrong answer to these questions in the film; it’s all a subjective experience. The Limping Man’s relationship is about as mundane and as forced as it gets, and it may go on for the rest of his life, or it might not. The relationship David develops with Short-Sighted Woman (Rachel Weisz) is the complete opposite.
The Lobster is a genuinely romantic movie and a part of the reason why is because Lanthimos and Filippou don’t make David and the Short-Sighted Woman’s relationship a complete fairy tale. Even when things are going well, there are problems, which make their relationship authentic. The pacing slows down considerably in the second half of the film, and while it’s a glaring change at first, it helps develop David and the Short-Sighted Woman’s love for one another. This isn’t a perfect relationship – which one is? – but it’s a great one.
The script finds ridiculous but relatable ways to capture what love can feel like. There’s a tragic moment of loss in The Lobster after a relationship crashes and burns in the most horrific way imaginable. What happens to David is ludicrous, funny, and heart-wrenching, but, as is the case in relationships, sometimes a disaster leads to something beautiful – like The Short-Sighted Woman. Without the pain David experiences, he never would’ve found the joy he discovers. Maybe it’s not joy, though. The ending of The Lobster is ambiguous, and, perhaps depending on where a viewer is in his or her love life, it’ll either be interpreted as romantic or tragic. Personally, I believe it’s the former, but whatever the case, it’s the perfect ending to an extraordinary film.
The Upside: Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz are terrific; explores all kinds of relationships; hilariously dark; a great romance; doesn’t explain the world more than it has to; one of the most original movies in years; the ending
The Downside: The change in pace is slightly abrupt at the start of the second half of the film.
Related Topics: Fantastic Fest