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’m not sure what it is about obscure films, but they always appeal to me. They offer such a rich viewing experience, I’m more than happy to sit through their weirdness. The Lobster is very strange from start to finish. 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. 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. 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 lobsters have a very long lifespan. Clearly, the film is worth watching just for the premise alone. 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?’

Deeper meanings and subtexts may not be for everyone, but The Lobster is all about reading between the lines. There’s no way anyone can watch this film without thinking about the meaning behind it. I see it as a dark commentary on relationships. It’s a satirical exploration of the unnecessary 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. In which case, they may as well be reduced to animals. It’s an extreme metaphor for how people often judge their self-worth in correspondence with their 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. It 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 love 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. He’s completely unfazed by the threat of violence or any other disturbances. Has the oppressive society drained out all emotion? Or is it just how people behave in the future? The Lobster doesn’t offer clear answers. It’s not straight-ahead and that’s the beauty of it.

Even though there’s plenty of comedy, 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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The Lobster loses its way when we’re taken away from the hotel setting. 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. It’s intentionally dead-pan and gloomy. It’s still a good film, but not one I can ever love. Its biggest strength is how it forces you to take a long look at relationships and question what exactly makes a “good match”.

Overall:

The Lobster is great to analyse and speculate about. Casual moviegoers and anyone who dislikes films that boggle the brain should steer clear. However, it’s the perfect way to start watching some more unconventional movies, because trust me, The Lobster is mind shattering. All things considered, its weak second half lets it down, but it still manages to be an 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: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly.

Distributor: Picturehouse Entertainment (UK)

Run Time: 119 min.


Have you seen The Lobster? Let me know your 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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