The Lobster plays with the psyche and fears of the audience like no other film. Everyone somewhat has the fear of dying alone at least once in their life, and this film certainly brings those fears back and intensifies it, too. Yorgos Lanthimos’ first feature film in English draws the audience slowly, into its descent into madness, and moves deeply with its hauntingly beautiful cinematography and unique plot. Colin Farrell convinces all in his role as David—a simpleton with looks far from being a Hollywood sex symbol.
He checks into a hotel in which he has to find a partner within 45 days, otherwise he will be turned into an animal of his own choosing—a lobster. The hotel seems welcoming at first, but the guests all seem a tad too desperate in finding a partner. The seemingly flirty atmosphere turns into a battle field at night when the hotel guests have to hunt each other down with tranquilizer guns in order to gain more days to find the love of their life. This film is full of unique characters, like David’s companions—who are referred to as the limping and lisping men (wonderfully portrayed by Ben Wishaw and John C. Reilly).
The bizarre but ordered world of the hotel contrasts with the second half of the film—which thematises David’s escape from the hotel, where suicide attempts and punishments for masturbating are on the daily order. He joins a group of loners who live in the nearby forest. Their ruthless leader, portrayed by the mesmerising Léa Seydoux, teaches them to survive and encourages them to dig their own graves.
The group of loners seem rather normal at first, but the punishments for initiating physical contact with another loner are torturous. They call themselves ‘loners’ for a reason. The whole cheerful situation does not get better when one of the loners (Rachel Weisz), falls in love with David and they have to communicate their passion to one another without getting caught.
It is not mentioned, but slowly revealed that the outside world and society do not reflect our reality—but rather, a dystopian near future in which people are governed by different rules. This revelation helps to understand the bizarre circumstances of the rest of the film, yet it does not remove the uneasiness of the viewer. Furthermore, the score accompanies the film perfectly and provides us with effectively shocking scenes and gives us further revelations more momentum.
The strongest point of the film is the macabre plot—which is full of disturbing moments that are hard to watch since they play with the preconceived notions of how humans are supposed to behave. When asked, Colin Farrell confessed that he was unsure about what it was about and that it was indeed hard to pinpoint the meaning of the film—but the themes of loneliness, heartbreak, and the search for a lover are familiar to most.
The Lobster, in my opinion, is not a film to be recommended to anyone who is not happy being a singleton, because they will leave the cinema with a sense of emptiness and paranoia.