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Yorgos Lanthimos' "The Lobster" Review and Explanation

This review contains spoilers as an explanation piece. If you had questions about this film, I have all the answers you need.

The Lobster #thelobster #thelobsterexplained

The Lobster #thelobster #thelobsterexplained

Watching "The Lobster" Can Tell You More About Yourself

The Lobster is a film that can tell you how you view relationships. When you reach the end of the movie, how you decipher the main character's fate says a lot about you. How many other movies can do that?

This review and explanation is full of spoilers. If you haven't see this film, this is your last warning.

See the end of this review to find out which ending describes whether you are a romantic or a cynic.

What's This Film About?

The Lobster is plainly staged in a large hotel within a made-up universe where people who are single must find a partner within 45 days. If they fail to find their match, they are unceremoniously turned into an animal. The central character is David (Colin Farrell), whose wife left him for someone else. He selects being turned into a lobster because lobsters love the sea and he is also fond of their inherent traits (listed at the end is a bit of info.) David arrives with his brother, who is now a dog, and is then introduced to the rules of the hotel.

The Lobster #thelobster #thelobsterexplained

The Lobster #thelobster #thelobsterexplained

Quick Film Facts

Directed and written by Yorgos Lanthimos and co-written by Efthymis Filippou.

Release: Cannes Film Festival in 2015 and the USA in 2016.
Budget: $4.5 million and $15.7 million at the box office.
Starring: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Jessica Barden, Olivia Colman and Ashley Jensen.

Yorgos Lanthimos

One of the most profound movies I have seen is The Killing of a Sacred Deer (TKOASD). I Yorgos Lanthimos (the director) also released The Favourite, set in the 18th Century. All his films are amazing and Yorgos is my absolute favourite director.

The Lobster #thelobster #thelobsterexplained

The Lobster #thelobster #thelobsterexplained

Review and Explanation

This film has the same monotone quality like The Killing of a Sacred Deer. In both, the cast and characters, express little to no emotion. They speak in a weird dialect that forces you to concentrate on the script. The main flow of the film is also created with no emotion and it's both odd and fantastic. You're left to ponder the action in its purest form when there's no drama diluting it. It highlights what the scene is about instead of confusing it with a narrative.

I watched this in a particularly lousy mood, after a really long day and a squabble with my other half. I laughed at the banal quality of it all. David eloquently points out that being in the forest with the loners is more appealing to him. He finds more freedom with them and can masturbate when he wants and engage in small talk and flirt when he wants. In the hotel, the maid decides the rules and dictate who talks to who.
Many find the hotel dire. Guests commit suicide so they won't be turned into an animal. Those that run out of time to find a mate are turned into animals and others fake common traits to land a partner so that won't happen. On top of that, the hotel guests are forced to contain their sexual frustration or have their fingers burned.

Final Thoughts

This universe 'rewards' people who form a relationship by giving them a bigger room, with a bigger bathroom. Children are the cure for couples who argue. The hotel's world dictates that having a child makes the arguments go away. The next stage for all couples is to live on a yacht. Real life's much the same and none of these phases are easy. It feels like being you've been left out at sea in a tiny boat in a marriage sometimes.

The whole film, for me, shows the pressure people endure to have a successful relationship. Those in unhappy relationships ride it out for the sake of the children, undergo counseling to fix things, some stay too long and, some don't stay long enough. There are people who get cheated on or have affairs. Everything in The Lobster covers each of those situations in a peculiar way but still drives the point home.

I adored this film for its very nature and for the way, it played out. The desperation and the lengths some of the characters go to coupled with the simple nature of applying rules both to hotel guests and to the forest singles.

Even if you have to google the meaning behind some of the story's mechanics, I think this is a film to get you thinking. It causes you to contemplate life in the same way as TKOASD did.

If you have any questions about the meaning of parts of this film, drop me a comment and I will give you the answer.

I give The Lobster 5 dead rabbits gifts out of 5.

What Are The Rules?

  • No masturbation.
  • You must allow the hotel maid to sexually stimulate you daily.
  • You must attend the hotel dances.
  • Your partner must have a trait in common with you.
  • If you would like to extend your 45-day time allocation, you may join the hunt. There are rogue single people who live in the forest, shooting one with a tranquilizer dart will earn you one day.

The Ending

Most films have a beginning, a middle and an end. The Lobster wants you to look at life and your own part in it. Perhaps see things differently. When the film ends, it seems like it strands you in the middle of nowhere but in fact gives you a tool to examine your own perspective on relationships. In this film, relationships are the key to happiness. Without one you are better off dead (the old adage of dying alone) or reincarnated as an animal.

The film wants you to ask questions. What would you do if you were David? If you had to follow the rules to live inside this hotel, what choices would you make? David isn't there by choice, his partner cheated on him. Without his relationship, this society dictates you need to find another or be turned into an animal within 47 days. He must find love. Loners are hunted and being in a relationship with someone with nothing in common is a punishable crime.

After everything David's been through trying to avoid being changed into an animal he finally finds 'the one.' Together they have shortsightedness in common. As they currently reside with the loners who have their own set of rules, they decide to escape. Jealous of the couple's plan, the hotel maid blinds the shortsighted woman leaving her blind. This leaves the two to try and figure out what else they have in common.

The final scene is the one which is pivotal to the film and to the viewers outlook on romance in general.

Which One Are You?

  • Option 1 — The Romantic:

David goes into the bathroom and blinds himself to be with the woman. They live happily ever after.

  • Option 2— The Cynic:

David flees the restaurant by climbing out of the window or sneaking past the woman as she can't see and grabs a taxi.

  • Option 3— Love is Blind:

David comes out of the bathroom and says he is now blind. As the woman will never be able to tell one way or another, he can simply carry on and live happily ever after and not be blind. This will also make the woman happy as she is reliant on the two having the commonality in the first place.

What About Lobsters?

Many people think lobsters mate for life. In fact, the first 5-7 years of a lobsters' life are spent changing shells. It's incorrect to think lobsters mate for life. They actually, dominate and the male gets to have a fling with as many women in his local area as he likes. He only stays with each one for a few weeks.

© 2018 Movie Whisperer


Movie Whisperer (author) from Moreton Bay, Queensland on September 12, 2020:

Lovely take - I still like my analysis though. I asked heaps of people on social media at the time of writing this article

naja on April 11, 2020:

The loner leader blinds the Short-Sighted Woman because her and David broke the rules. There's nothing to make you believe that The Loner Leader is jealous but rather has a very tight grip on the loner community and wants to maintain that control. The hotel maid is just loyal to the Loner Leader. The Loner Leader, understanding the universe, knows that David and the woman are "in love" because they are both short-sighted.