Imagine living in a world where being alone is considered criminally negligible…
In “The Lobster”, David (Colin Farrell) has to meet and fall in love with a partner within forty – five days, or else he’ll wind up as living as an animal for the rest of his natural life. Never has romantic autonomy been so futile.
With the departure of his wife, David is unwillingly inducted into a lonely world. Unable to survive on his own, he is committed to a hotel designed to inspire its widowed, single, and psychotic to find a mate within five weeks or suffer a horrible fate. Visitors unable to find a mate will be subjected to a gruelling transformation where they become animals. The animals are of their choosing of course, yet being single has never been so deadly. If you’re lucky and cupid strikes, you are then subjected to a mandatory stay on the hotel’s yacht for fourteen days with your partner. You survive that, and you’re on your way back to the city. Of course, you could fake your love for your significant other but that wouldn’t last long. Your livelihood depends on it after all and divorce isn’t really an option. Even further, hotel members are forced to participate in daily scavenger hunts to capture former hotel guests. Loners, as they are called, who have escaped the hotel and banded together on their own to form a resistance against society’s tyrannical reign. The loners however, have a deadly regime of their own. If any loner were to fall in love, their punishment would spawn humiliation and facial mutilation. Unfortunately, as a hotel guest, your humanity rests on capturing a loner to prolong your stay at the hotel. As a loner, your freedom is dependent on not being captured by a hotel guest and as David’s stay commences, he will soon realize that love is nothing more than a wicked game.
Directed and written by Yorgos Lanthimos, co- written by Efthymis Filippou, “The Lobster” has a distinguished principle cast played by Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Léa Seydoux and Olivia Colman. Aside from the script, Johnnie Burn’s jarring score does well to encapsulate the off kilter world in which David lives. The cinematography is filtered with a constant greyish bluish hue which closely emulates the film’s tone. For these characters, the world offers them no compromise or in between, for them, the world is simply love or don’t.
Farrell portrays the lowly David fantastically as he maneuvers through the hotel sniffing out feasible romantic partners all the while trying to maintain his sanity. Weisz and Seydoux resort to brutal horseplay to stay alive in the loners club yet their tension is minor in contrast to the larger threat at hand. Weekly trips to the city to get supplies give a few select loners a glimpse at the benefits of partnership without having to permanently consign to marriage.
In essence, the film does well to reflect the clickbait culture that we live in at the moment. It presents us with the reality that partnership is not a construct established for the sole purpose of survival even though in some ways, it is. There are certain elements within a partnership that are physically, and even emotionally, reliant on having a better half. Although much of the story is narrated through another character’s perspective, the audience, like this dystopian society, monitors David’s progression as he transcends from lonely canvasser to devious manipulator.
At its core, “The Lobster” documents our basic instinct, our insatiable thirst to survive. It also offers us a glimpse into an exaggerated world that could surely mimic our own if we let it.