The Big Picture
is a surreal film set in a dystopian society where single people must find a partner within 45 days or be transformed into an animal.
- The film explores themes of societal oppression and the power of love in an unconventional and darkly comedic manner.
- The ending of
is left ambiguous, but it can be seen as either bleak or optimistic, highlighting the complexities of human relationships.
Director Yorgos Lanthimos is no stranger to the unusual. His films tend to have a unique blend of societal satire, dark comedy, and psychological elements, especially in notable features like The Killing of a Sacred Deer and The Favourite. Both take stories of family and jealousy, respectively, and turn them into chilling morality tales. Poor Things, his most recent endeavor into the outlandish, was no exception and further proved Lanthimos’ affinity for bizarre and powerful storytelling. However, as unique and memorable as all these films are, the director’s 2015 absurdist comedy, The Lobster, is definitely one of his most surreal.
In a dystopian near future, according to the laws of The City, single people are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in 45 days or they’re transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.
- Release Date
- October 15, 2015
- Yorgos Lanthimos
- 119 minutes
- Main Genre
- Efthymis Filippou , Yorgos Lanthimos
What is ‘The Lobster’ About?
The Lobster revolves around a dystopian society where inhabitants are given 45 days to find a romantic partner, or otherwise be permanently turned into an animal of their choosing. David (Colin Farrell) serves as our entry point into the story as he is forced to find a new partner after his wife leaves him. If he fails, he says he’d like to be turned into a lobster “because lobsters live for over 100 years, are blue-blooded like aristocrats, and stay fertile all their lives.” But it’s not David’s intention to fail in his quest for new love. He’s taken to a strange hotel where the guests are meant to make connections, though it’s not exactly the resort spa viewers might be expecting. The hotel has many strange rules, rituals, and practices. For example, self-pleasure is prohibited and guests are regularly subjected to propaganda about the benefits of romantic partnership. Not to mention that they can push back their animal transformation day by hunting the “Loners” in the woods near the property — people who have chosen to defy society’s rules by staying single.
Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz Make a Bizarre Couple in ‘The Lobster’
Despite being quiet and reserved, David makes several attempts to find a partner until he finally seems to have found a match in that of a cold, cruel woman (Angeliki Papoulia). They are whisked away to the couples’ section of the hotel and all seems to be going well — that is until David wakes up to find that the woman has killed his brother (who was turned into a dog after being unable to successfully partner with someone). David can’t help but mourn his sibling, which causes the woman to threaten to report him to the hotel staff. After all, David’s emotional response lets her know that he is not as compatible with the sociopathic woman as he led her to believe.
But before he can be reported, David is able to flee the hotel to join the colony of Loners. Once there, he discovers that their beliefs are a stark contrast to those of the hotel, since the Loners don’t allow any romance whatsoever. However, even though he knows this, David starts a clandestine relationship with a short-sighted woman (Rachel Weisz). After all, they both share the flaw of having poor vision, making them instantly compatible.
Both David and his new partner enjoy their relationship until the leader of the Loner colony discovers their romance. The short-sighted woman is taken away to the city where she’s blinded for ignoring the Loners’ rules against romantic pairing. But love knows no bounds, and she and David attempt to bond and find things that they have in common before fleeing the colony in favor of a fresh start in the city. However, the short-sighted woman’s new disability makes finding common ground between them more difficult than they first thought.
David Plans To Blind Himself at the End of ‘The Lobster’
As the pair pause their journey to stop at a restaurant, David rises from their table to take what appears to be a regular trip to the bathroom. It’s only when he’s there that we see it’s anything but normal: it turns out that he has taken a steak knife from their table. He looks between the knife on the sink and himself in the mirror, and it’s blatantly obvious what he is planning to do. In order to be able to better relate to his new companion, David is prepared to blind himself.
There are several ways to interpret the ending of The Lobster — even though the film ends before we know for certain whether David went through with his dark deed. Depending on your view of David and the short-sighted woman’s struggles, it could either be seen as incredibly bleak or surprisingly uplifting. On one hand, the film’s final moments can be interpreted as especially dark and depressing, since society has disciplined and brainwashed its inhabitants to the point that David feels the only way to find the true love and companionship he desires is to physically maim himself. Partnership, the ending seems to argue, is not based on romantic connections, but on physical similarities.
“The best way to watch a film, is to not know anything about the person who made it.”
Even more upsetting is that David’s predicament is the direct result of his unfortunate circumstances. Throughout The Lobster, he’s consistently punished for things that he himself hasn’t done wrong, like his wife leaving him, being incompatible with his other suitors, or the romantic feelings for the short-sighted woman that begin to stir inside him. It’s an incredibly grim outcome for a decent, morally righteous character. Here, it could be said the film argues that living a life of integrity and goodness does not directly correlate to being rewarded with what you want.
Yorgos Lanthimos Leaves ‘The Lobster’s Ending Ambiguous
However, The Lobster‘s ending could also be seen as optimistic, since David is willing to blind himself to be happy and make sure that the short-sighted woman isn’t alone in her new disability. Even though David might be without sight, it’s arguable that he’s seeing things clearly for the first time in a long time. Happiness, he seems to find, depends not on the physical, as the hotel staff members have long led him to believe. Rather than being threatened with injuries if he doesn’t follow others’ orders, he’s making the decision himself. It could be said that David is finally taking control of his own narrative, carving out a new path for himself and his love even through the darkness that awaits them — a darkness of his own choosing.
No matter which way you interpret the ending — or whether or not David actually follows through with blinding himself — The Lobster uses its surreal and absurd elements to paint a portrait of both the dangers of societal oppression and the uncontrollable power of love.
The Lobster is available to rent on Prime Video in the U.S.