A closer look at… The Lobster
The Scoop — A pitch-dark satire on the contemporary relationship game. Would make an excellent double-bill with ‘Her’.
Warning: Contains plot spoilers
Think it’s tough being single? At least you don’t live in the off-kilter futuristic world inhabited by David (Colin Farrell). When his wife leaves him, he is sent to stay in a hotel where he and a large group of other singletons have forty-five days to fall in love with someone, or be turned into an animal. David decides that if it comes to that, he’ll be a lobster. He’s always liked the sea.
When things at the hotel go awry, David runs away to the woods, where he encounters a group of rebel Loners whose fearsome leader (Lea Seydoux) enacts bloody punishments on those who are tempted by romance. Falling in love with a Loner woman (Rachel Weisz) could be a short-sighted move.
I don’t really have the final answer. Is there real love and how will you find it and how you will you know? — Director Yorgos Lanthimos
If you’ve seen any of the previous films by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos — such as the disturbing Dogtooth (2009) — you’ll have some idea what to expect from this, his English-language debut. The delicious offbeat humour and high-concept weirdness of The Lobster‘s first act don’t conceal the film’s darker intentions. The threat of some sudden act of violence is never far away.
Watch out for familiar faces such as Ben Wishaw, John C Reilly, Ashley Jensen and Olivia Colman in the supporting cast. And for a final scene which will leave you peering through your fingers in pure, disbelieving horror.
Even when you’re rebelling, the rebellion becomes a cult that you have to conform to. So how do you become an original thinker? — Rachel Weisz
- Did you enjoy the film, and why, or why not? Was it what you were expecting? How much did you know about it going in?
- How did you react to the film’s central concept? How does the script establish the rules of the story’s world, and in your view, were we given enough explanation?
‘That makes total sense.’ — David
- How would you describe the tone of The Lobster? Did you primarily find it funny, disturbing, or both? Did you feel any emotional connection or empathy with the characters and their relationships, and why, or why not?
- What real-life parallels might there be to the bizarre dating rituals of the hotel? In what respects is our own society obsessed with relationships, and horrified by singleness? What might be the symbolic significance of characters who fail to find a partner being turned into animals?
- Why do you think the filmmakers chose to shift the focus in the second half to the Loner group, and their alternative set of rules? Do the Loners’ opposite attitudes towards relationships have any real-life parallel?
‘I don’t miss companionship at all.’ — David
- Why do you think the characters in the film are fixated with finding a partner who shares a superficial similarity with them? In real life, how important is it to share common interests or life experiences with a partner? What might be the pitfalls of looking for someone who is right for us ‘on paper’?
‘You need to choose a partner that is a similar type of animal to you.’ — Hotel Manager (Olivia Colman)
- Does The Lobster seem to hold out any hope for David and the Short-Sighted Woman? How did you interpret the film’s final moments? How might any of us find hope for our relationships in a world that tends to either idolise or undervalue them?
Originally published at filmblog.damaris.org on October 26, 2015.