Starring: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, John C. Reilly, Lea Seydoux, Olivia Colman, Ashley Jensen, Ariane Labed, Michael Smiley, Angeliki Papoulia, Jessica Barden
OUR RATING: ★★★½
Comedy drama directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. Lobster (2015) is set in the near future where single people, according to the rules of The City, are arrested and transferred to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a matching mate in forty-five days. If they fail, they are transformed into an animal of their choosing and sent off into The Woods. In that setting, one man, David (Colin Farrell), escapes into The Woods and falls in love with a Loner, despite the rules.
Our Favorite Quotes:
Hotel Manager: Have you ever been on your own before?
David: No, never.
Hotel Manager: Your last relationship lasted how many years?
Hotel Manager: Sexual preference?
David: Women. Is there a bisexual option available?
Hotel Manager: No, sir. This option is no longer available.
Hotel Manager: Any children?
Hotel Manager: And the dog?
David: This is my brother. He was here a couple of years ago but he didn’t make it.
Hotel Manager: Did you read the leaflet?
David: Yes, I did.
Hotel Manager: As you understand from your brother’s experience if you fail to fall in love with someone during your stay here, you will turn into an animal. As an animal you will have a second chance to find a companion.
Hotel Manager: Have you thought of what animal you’d like to be if you end up alone?
David: Yes, a lobster.
Hotel Manager: A lobster is an excellent choice.
Trainer Waiter – Shooting Range: [to David] It’s not a coincidence that the targets are shaped like single people and not couples.
The Limping Man: Have you ever danced with anybody?
Lisping Man: Yes.
The Limping Man: What sort of dancing did you do?
Lisping Man: Just depends on the music.
Hotel Manager: [giving a speech to the hotel guests] If you encounter any problems you cannot resolve yourselves, you will be assigned children, that usually helps.
David: Did you catch rabbits? Catching rabbits is difficult.
Short Sighted Woman: Thank you very much.
David: If you need more rabbits, I’ll bring you more.
Short Sighted Woman: Do you promise?
David: [to Short Sighted Woman] We have to be totally synchronized. Five, four, three, two…
Lisping Man: Have you thought about what animals you want to be if you don’t make it?
David: A lobster.
Lisping Man: I’m going to be a parrot if I don’t make it. Why don’t you become parrots too? And then we’ll all be together.
The Limping Man: You’re a complete idiot, picking one of the few animals that can talk when you have speech impediment. You’ll lisp, even as an animal.
The Limping Man: [to David] As for you, they’ll catch you and put you in a pot of boiling water until you die and then they’ll crack open your claws with a tool, like pliers, and they’ll suck out what little flesh you have with their mouths. You’re pathetic, both of you. I’m not going to be turned into some animal. I’ll come and visit you though with my partner, when we’re walking together in some park or when we’re swimming in the sea, or when we’re on one of our trips.
[suddenly Lisping Man pushes him in anger and they start scrabbling]
Short Sighted Woman: We’ve developed a code so that we can communicate with each other even in front of the others without them knowing what we are saying. When we turn our heads to the left it means “I love you more than anything in the world”, and when we turn our heads to the right it means “Watch out, we’re in danger”. We had to be very careful in the beginning not to mix up “I love you more than anything in the world” with “watch out, we’re in danger”. When we raise our left arm it means “I want to dance in your arms”, when we make a fist and put it behind our backs it means “Let’s f***”. The code grew and grew as time went by and within a few weeks we could talk about almost anything without even opening our mouths.
The Limping Man: Hello everyone. My mother was left on her own when my father fell in love with a woman who was better at math than she was. She had a post graduate degree I think, whereas my mother was only a graduate. I was nineteen at the time. My mother entered the hotel, but didn’t make it and was turned into a wolf. I really missed her. I found out she had been moved to a zoo. I often went there to see her. I’d give her raw meat. I knew that wolves liked raw meat, but I couldn’t figure out which of the wolves was my mother so I used to give a little bit to each of them. One day I decided to enter the enclosure. I really missed her and I wanted a hug. I climbed the fence and jumped in. All the wolves charged at once and attacked me; all but two who stood motionless. My guess is that one of those two must have been my mother. The zoo guards got to me quite quickly and took me to the hospital. Thankfully I didn’t lose my leg. I just have this limp, which is also my defining characteristic. My wife died six days ago. She was very beautiful and I loved her very much. She had a limp too.
Short Sighted Woman: [referring to David] One day, as he was playing golf, he thought that it is more difficult to pretend that you do have feelings when you don’t than to pretend you don’t have feelings when you do.
David: These aren’t tears, it’s just water. I just washed my face.
Heartless Woman: I knew you were lying. I can’t understand why you did it, when you know as well as anyone that a relationship cannot be built on a lie.
Loner Leader: You can be alone here as long as you like, there is not time limit. Any romantic or sexual relations are punished.
Loner Leader: We all dance by ourselves. That’s why we only play electronic music.
David: [to Short Sighted Woman as they are trying to run away] I can’t go much faster. These trousers are too tight, I’m sorry.
David: [as Lisping Man is about shoot him] You’re like a brother to me. Oh, you’re my best friend in the whole world.
Lisping Man: I don’t think I’m your best friend in the whole world.
Short Sighted Woman: He didn’t burst into tears and he didn’t think that the first thing most people do when they realize someone doesn’t love them anymore is cry.
Short Sighted Woman: That night, in my sleep, I dreamt that we lived in a big house together in the city with a large, well-lit kitchen, and I was wearing dark blue trousers and a tight cream blouse and he took my clothes off and f***ed me up the a**.
Loner Leader: Can you imagine why I brought you to this quiet place today?
Loner Leader: Because I think it’s the perfect spot for your grave.
Loner Leader: Where were you? I was looking for you.
David: I was masturbating behind those trees over there.
Loukia Kitazou (Guildford, Surrey, UK) says
Extraordinary yet Ordinary
While, The Lobster distances the audience through its uncompromising narrative, plain dialogue and magnificent cinematography, it ultimately sings the harsh truthfulness regarding relationships in society which keeps the audience from turning away from it.
Rules, pressure, bloody deaths as well as love, obstacles and freedom meet in a dystopian world. The dissonant music pinches you, refreshes your senses; this film gets under your skin. It gives you the role of the witness when viewing the horrifying honesty with which the consequences of being single or in a relationship are carried out. Watching this film was a curiously relatable experience.
Living in a world where the characters are torn to choose between living in the woods and remaining single, or finding a compatible partner and thus allowed to return to the city underlines the binary choice a person has in a society. Both The Loners as well as The Hotel provide certain rules and inscriptions that surrounds the characters once they’ve made a decision to belong to one of the two groups. This goes to show that the society is governed by an illusion of freedom.
The limping man lies in order to find himself a partner, which brings to mind how in reality we might try to find partners with similar characteristics to us so that to find our perfect match. Up to what point of the relationship though do we stop performing our role? When did we stop caring about being truly happy and when did we decide that we should settle for something that isn’t true? These are some questions that The Lobster raises with the purpose to awaken people. Like the non-diegetic sound of the Greek song, ‘Apo mesa pethamenos’ proposes, ‘people are dead in the inside and alive on the outside’. Is this what our society has come to?
David breaks away from this spiral circle of such emptiness when he finds himself in the woods with The Loners. This is when he experiences a strong connection with a woman from the group. Having the same characteristic of being short sighted, they believe that they have found their one true love. The ending will disentangle any notions that their love is solely based on the system of The Hotel where couples should share one similar characteristic in order to be in a relationship. David’s decision operates in a way to show that sacrifice goes beyond the stereotypical conventions of being in a relationship and of being in love. It is what makes you human.
Lanthimos and Filippou’s cliffhanging screenplay suggests that the audience are entitled to their own belief, on whether David remained true to his decision. What Lanthimos’ mesmerising piece of romantic tragicomedy illustrates is that as people we are given a choice. The hardest part however is not making that choice but going through with it.
Humour suits Lanthimos’s films. As seen in this film as well as in the Oscar nominated, Dogtooth, his sense of tragedy has undertones of dark humour which is a reverberating ingredient to the success of his films.
What animal would you want to be, if you were unsuccessful in finding a partner within 45 days?
Certainly not a lobster?
Love this review! Can’t wait to watch the film now! Thank you
Amazing review! Definitely going to watch!
Sounds amazing! Must watch❤
I’ve been meaning to watch this film for a while now! It sounds amazing!!