If you were to be transformed into the animal of your choosing. Which would you choose? Think about it carefully because you would be spending the rest of your life as whatever you picked. The Lobster is a film that dissects and analyzes that question, while functioning as a cutting black comedy about what it means to be human and in a relationship in today’s world.
In director, Yorgos Lanthimos’s follow up to Dogtooth, you are introduced to a world in the not-too-distant-future, where single people are taken to a place called the Hotel, where they are given fourty-five days in order to meet a partner. The guests at the hotel have to take part in strange courting rituals and uncomfortable introductions. For example, when you arrive you are made to tie one hand behind your back, if you are caught masturbating your hand is placed into a hot toaster as punishment. If after 45 days you are not able to find a mate you are transformed into the animal of your choosing and sent out into the woods.
David (Colin Farrell) is sent to the Hotel following his wife leaving him for another man. He is suddenly thrust into the strange life at the Hotel where he meets a cast of bizarre characters that are trying to find a relationship before they are turned into animals.
Some people choose to escape the hotel and survive in the woods with a group called “the Loners.” These people also have their own strange rules and rituals that strictly forbid coupling. For example, if you are caught kissing someone, you are given the “scarlet kiss,” a cruel process where your lips are sliced with a razor blade and you are forced to kiss the other person while your lips bleed profusely.
Lanthimos creates a unique world that exists somewhere between reality and science fiction. The claustrophobic Hotel is represented as a reflection for the compartmentalized ideals of society’s weight on relationships. He also only gives a name to David, if you look at the credits you will notice that all other characters were named for a flaw. For example, sort sighted girl, man with limp or man with lisp.
The Lobster is definitely a film that exists on a plane of pure hyperbole. It’s a film that will form your opinion based on the subject at hand; mirroring your personal beliefs. For me, it was about the weight that is put upon people in order to find a romantic partner, have kids and get married. Those that don’t do that are kind of ostracized by family and friends. It is also about the impersonality of how people connect to each other nowadays and how a lot of relationships are illusory and ephemeral.
On its surface however, The Lobster is a quick-dry-witted bite of dark comedy. It is as equally bizarre as it is brilliant. When it excels to its most telling, it is easily the most human film I have seen in years. This film will undoubtably divide people, and I feel like that too is the Lanthimos’s intent.