The Lobster (2016): An Absurdist Love Story

The Lobster is exactly the type of film that would never get made in Hollywood. It’s disturbingly funny and totally off-beat.

I’ve always been drawn to obscure films and I’m more than happy to sit through their head-scratching weirdness. And The Lobster is very strange from start to finish. It’s an absurdist comedy-drama set in an alternate future or some ill-defined present where single people check themselves into a hotel, and they have 45 days to find a partner. If they fail, they get turned into an animal of their choice.

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Colin Farrell stars as David, a newly single man who arrives at the hotel, and we follow his journey trying to find a romantic partner so he can remain human. He decides he will become a lobster if he doesn’t “make it” because he loves the sea, and due to the fact that lobsters have a very long life span. I actually think the film is worth watching just for the premise alone because it’s so far-fetched and utterly bizarre. It’s such a great idea for a movie though, regardless. It’s the kind of unique idea that makes you say to yourself, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’

As a result of studying film in higher education, I always find myself looking for deeper meanings in films. It has become an annoying habit of mine. The Lobster is all about reading between the lines, so there’s no way anyone can watch this film without thinking about the meaning behind it. In my view, the film is a dark commentary on the complexities of relationships. I see it as a satirical exploration of the profound importance we place on finding a partner, and the pressure we put ourselves under.

The film explores the idea that humans are so obsessed with finding the perfect match, that those who fail to do so, have no relevance to society and may as well be reduced to animals. So, although the film is fantastical, it’s basically an extreme metaphor for how we often judge our self-worth in correspondence with our relationship status.

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David and the other guests at the hotel, including John C. Reilly and Ben Whishaw’s characters, all have a defining characteristic, which sets them apart from everyone else. For example, there is one woman (Jessica Burden) who suffers from random nose bleeds. The guests are made to reveal their peculiar characteristics, in the hope they find common ground with a potential partner. I really like this idea as it does ring home because we’re all eager to find common ground with other people, and maintain that commonality.

During their stay in the hotel, the guests have to follow certain rules and are punished if they disobey. Most of the characters have little emotion, particularly David as he is completely unfazed by the threat of violence or any other disturbances. The lack of emotion seems to be as a result of the oppressive society these people live in, so all personality has been drained out of them. Even though there’s plenty of comical moments, the whole film is pretty unnerving and the striking voice-over from Rachel

Even though there’s plenty of comical moments, the whole film is pretty unnerving and the striking voice-over from Rachel Weisz contributes to this. Her character doesn’t appear until the second half of the film, which is the point where the film goes slightly downhill.

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I really enjoyed the first half of the film, which takes place almost entirely in the hotel. The Lobster loses its way when we are taken away from the hotel setting and when the film starts exploring the relationship between David, and Weisz’s character. When the movie takes things outdoors, it’s not as engaging and I did find my mind wandering.

I definitely appreciate The Lobster for what it is, but I’m not sure I’d want to watch it again. The film is intentionally dead-pan and gloomy, so it will only appeal to very niche audiences. Having said that, I’d still recommend The Lobster to anyone looking to watch a film with a bit of originality. It’s thought-provoking and it forces you to take a long look at relationships, and question what exactly makes a “good match”.

Overall:

The Lobster is a great film to analyse and speculate about, so it’s ideal for viewers who like lots of talking points when the credits roll. I would say that casual moviegoers and anyone who dislikes films that boggle the brain, should steer clear from this film. However, it’s the perfect way to start watching some more unconventional movies, because trust me, The Lobster is mind shattering and comically dark. All things considered, The Lobster‘s weak second half lets it down, but the film still manages to be a very intriguing and artistic piece of work.

Quoted: “If you encounter any problems you cannot resolve yourselves, you will be assigned children, that usually helps.”

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Writers: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou

Stars: Collin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly.

Distributor: Picturehouse Entertainment (UK)

Run Time: 119 min


Have you seen The Lobster? Let me know you thoughts in the comment section!

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Liam

6 thoughts on “The Lobster (2016): An Absurdist Love Story

  1. This is a great review! I really enjoyed this movie, although it’s extremely bleak. I thought everyone involved gave an absolutely fantastic performance – I loved Lea Seydoux in it. But I’m with you when it comes to the idea of watching it again – don’t think I could.

    Liked by 1 person

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