The Lobster (2015)
May 12, 2016 12:51 AM - Subscribe

In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.

Robbie Collin (The Telegraph): As the title suggests, David (Colin Farrell) quite fancies becoming a lobster if things don’t work out: they can live for over 100 years, they’re blue-blooded (“like aristocrats”), and he also likes the sea. But it’s surely no coincidence that David’s chosen creature has been the mascot of the surrealist movement ever since Salvador Dalí thought to plonk one on top of a telephone in the 1930s. Lanthimos’s film works on much the same principle: when individually familiar but unrelated objects are placed side by side, both start to radiate oddness.

Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian)
: After a hilarious and creepy start, The Lobster jumps the shark. This happens about half way through; its contrivances and contortions lose their angular rigour and point. It runs out of ideas and its style becomes a mannerism.

A.A. Dowd (AV Club): The dialogue, penned by Lanthimos and his regular co-writer Efthymis Filippou, is all awkward alien chitchat—a grotesque parody of desperate first-date small talk. The film has the setup of a cruel, surreal rom-com, as newly divorced David checks himself into a seaside hotel, the dog that used to be his brother in tow.


Bonus: The Lobster Quiz: If you end up alone, what animal should you be?
posted by sapagan (37 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If I end up alone, I'll be a duck! Hooray!
posted by miss-lapin at 2:41 AM on May 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, water bear!
posted by glitter at 3:55 AM on May 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Swan here. Obvs.
posted by orange swan at 4:02 AM on May 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

I chose a rhino over a camel or an ant.
posted by TwoStride at 5:44 AM on May 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I got exactly what I wanted.
posted by cazoo at 11:57 AM on May 12, 2016

"this is the best film Bunuel has made since his death," says a camel.
posted by sapagan at 11:58 AM on May 12, 2016 [9 favorites]

I watched this movie while I was in labor - but had to turn it off once he left the hotel and the kissing punishments were described.

Also - if I end up alone, I would like to be a crow.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 1:12 PM on May 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I chose penguin over a lobster or rabbit. I am not sure why.

This movie was definitely not the right movie to watch on a plane just after my husband left me. (The in-flight magazine led me to believe it was mainly a comedy. Stupid magazine.) Also, there is a particularly brutal death of a dog - I definitely didn't need to see that.
posted by minsies at 2:07 PM on May 12, 2016 [7 favorites]

posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:18 PM on May 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I chose cat over water bear or spider. It was actually a really tough call.
posted by town of cats at 1:00 PM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

No anteater?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:23 PM on May 14, 2016

I'll be a crow! Right on. I always have thought that crows are going to take over the world some day.

Really, though, I wanted to be a wombat.
posted by holborne at 8:40 PM on May 14, 2016

I am definitely dying alone and I feel comforted that I will resurrect as a cat, which is a lazy, moody and luxurious animal truly handmade by God
posted by naju at 1:35 AM on May 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

This movie has confirmed my previous observation that I hate dark comedies. I couldn't finish it despite admiring it.
posted by bq at 10:02 AM on May 15, 2016

What a great film! I'm pleased that they found a logline/elevator pitch for this movie that will attract people to see it, even though it's not what the movie is about at all.

The movie reminded me of nothing more than Being John Malkovich. They both use strange dreamlike logic for comic effect. Some of David Lynch's comic scenes also come close to this aesthetic. All the protagonists in these sorts of movies are like Dale Cooper. They have a catlike manner where they act like the weirdness around them is curious but is otherwise to be taken in stride.
posted by painquale at 3:07 PM on May 15, 2016 [8 favorites]

It gave me the options of water bear (what is this?), cock, or rabbit. Cock is the life of the party, so I went with that one!
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:57 PM on May 15, 2016

I'm starting to think that everyone gets water bear as a choice.
posted by holborne at 8:55 AM on May 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Starting to question my life choices here...or at least what I tell online quizzes, anyway
posted by wenestvedt at 10:39 AM on May 16, 2016

I had the choice of horse, peacock or bison.
Chose horse.
posted by brujita at 9:58 PM on May 25, 2016

I got rabbit, horse, or panda. I chose panda because rabbits get hunted and die, and horses have to work all the time or someone shoots them. As a panda I probably don't know how to have sex, but at least a zoo will keep me alive and people will flock from miles around to visit me. Any loved ones will probably know where to find me, too.

A friend of mine pointed out how structurally similar to The Matrix this movie is.
posted by Sara C. at 8:59 PM on May 28, 2016

I saw this movie today. I wanted to love it but as I read elsewhere, it feels like a two-hour episode of Black Mirror, with the first hour being compelling and the second just entirely losing its way. Or, at the very least, dragging. Bummer.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 10:51 PM on May 29, 2016

The trailer really markets this as a comedy and aside from a few uncomfortable scoffs at the start it got really dark and I wish I'd been a little more ready for that. Halfway through I wanted to kick myself for remembering an earlier movie Yorgos Lanthimos did, Dogtooth, whose characters have a similar awkwardness and an interesting but bleak progression (be warned: spoiler, trigger...... a cat is killed in this one). That awareness might have helped me be in a little better mindset for this one.

But perhaps if I'd known more of what I was in for I might have opted for something more palatable. The constraints on relationships both to be couples in a rigidly structured society and almost equally so to not be coupled in the forest were interesting, but there's no hope for them.

(spoiler/trigger warning) When the dog is killed, it's not shown, but the aftermath and the blood on her leg for multiple following scenes was really horrific. The violence of her act so evident and obvious was difficult to take.

The final scenes I really was just covering my eyes and ears. So my suggestion would be to know what you're getting into I guess. I used to love movies that challenged my world view when I was younger, but now with more awareness of the real tragedy in our real world and a job that is also prone to sadness I find movies like this so hard to take. I like that it has such a strong voice, but I don't think I personally need to hear that voice.

That said, I really like rounder, more fragile Colin Farrell.
posted by dog food sugar at 3:44 AM on May 31, 2016 [5 favorites]

Wow I hated this movie. The first halfheld such promise! And then it switched to the forest setting which I thought was the final chapter, only to discover we were only about, what...a third done? With the remaining 2/3rds not only tedious but pointlessly bleak and grim.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:42 PM on May 31, 2016 [3 favorites]

Finally, a romantic comedy made for bitter self pitying single people! A+.
posted by idiopath at 7:48 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Water bear!

This was a very brutal film. I found myself upset multiple times while watching-- but of course, that was the intention-- to reflect the violence of social pressures wrought upon human interaction. The first half was better than the second half-- towards the end it started to drag, and it simply wasn't as tight as the opening setup. For example, the remark about the assignment of children, should arguments arise, wasn't followed through as a plot device and made the analogy unnecessarily explicit. Overall, good acting all around, musically interesting, narratively interesting, and a good anti-Valentines Day movie.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 7:32 PM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

The movie reminded me of nothing more than Being John Malkovich.

I want to say maybe Children of Men? It's a brutal dystopia that has a thick, misleading veneer of looking like the world of today...

I liked it for the most part; the humor was odd and understated (and touches like the point when Rachel Weisz's voiceover repeats verbatim what one of the characters has just said onscreen were delightful) but it did drag on a bit toward the end.
posted by psoas at 9:45 AM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

and touches like the point when Rachel Weisz's voiceover repeats verbatim what one of the characters has just said onscreen were delightful

I thought this was a great storytelling device and probably the best use of voiceover I've ever seen. Especially because, in traditional screenwriting, if you're having a love story, you need your lovers to meet in the first ten pages. Because this film's lovers don't meet until after Colin Farrell flees, you need Rachel Weisz to have some presence in the film earlier than that for the story to make any sense/not confuse and repel the audience. So you insert her as a voiceover. But then a lot of movies use voiceover, and it might just seem like an expository device to do a bit of the world-building that can't be easily conveyed onscreen. So you add a few scenes where that hang a lampshade on why there is even voiceover at all, and who this voice belongs to, and how she's even getting this information, anyway. To poke at the fact that we *have* been introduced to the love interest even in the first few minutes of the film, we just haven't seen her face yet.

I've read a lot of pointers that you should make every scene you write accomplish as much as physically possible. And this is something I struggle with in my own writing: how to be brief, write elegantly, make people laugh, tell story, build the world, convey a lot of character information, etc. and make 90% of that pipe you just laid invisible. You can have issues with the narrative arc of this movie, but the way it's written is very, very smart.

(Though I'll also say that I spent the last 10-20 minutes wondering, "Well why don't they just...?" "Couldn't they simply have...?" which was frustrating. But the first two acts were so good that I'm willing to overlook that.)
posted by Sara C. at 10:09 AM on June 6, 2016 [8 favorites]

Rabbit. I'm not one bit surprised.

Favorite scenes:
- When the solo bandits force a decision in the hotel manager's room.
- The solo dancing in the woods!
- The weird, lingering making out to guitar music.
posted by mochapickle at 9:25 PM on June 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

Elephant! (over penguin and lobster)

I loved very specific things about this movie, but if someone was to ask me how it was, just casually, I'd go "hmm..." and then trail off. Given the dog death, I was bracing for gore with the knife and the eye in the bathroom. That they didn't show that and how it ended left me very perplexed; I was half-expecting him blinding himself, but I was glad to not have to see it, but I didn't want blind Rachel Weisz to just sit there...

Favorite scenes:
- When the solo bandits force a decision in the hotel manager's room.
- The solo dancing in the woods!
- The weird, lingering making out to guitar music.

- The out of place animals wandering in the back ground, a peacock, a camel, that pony with the luxurious mane.
- The body language codes between David and shorted sighted woman.
posted by numaner at 12:46 PM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just saw this today. It's too long, definitely, but I really liked it, and can't think of what I'd cut. Maybe the toaster scene, the cop scare...

I loved the voiceovers and how they culminated in the maid reading from the diary.

The game of Touch-Guess-Think-Win (and the kiwi) was pretty hilarious.

I wonder if there was a clue what animal the heartless woman became.

Re: the ending, I have to assume he puts his eyes out and doesn't just run away, Five Easy Pieces style, despite that seeming to be the reference. He's doomed by the idea that defining characteristics have to match. He's certainly cowardly and foolish enough to fake being blind, but he's found out that doesn't work. I think the film is trying to tell me he runs away but I just don't want to believe it.
posted by nom de poop at 1:56 PM on August 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

non de poop, fwiw, I believe that the film was trying to tell me he went through with it. He lacked enough imagination to do otherwise, imo.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:18 PM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

So now I'm wondering if I dreamed up the idea of the heartless woman being a fly, or if we actually see a fly after she is taken to the room and I assumed it was her?
posted by idiopath at 5:25 AM on August 15, 2016

But flies have hearts though.
posted by idiopath at 5:26 AM on August 15, 2016

The beginning of this seemed very Terry Gilliam/Brazil to me, but then it became something else...Bunuel fits, I think. I thought it was good overall and quite absurdly funny throughout, but too long. It was a 90 or 100 minute movie at most, stretched to 120.

I assumed the heartless woman would kill the dog but was unprepared for the brutal nature of it. There was more animal death than I wanted to see but that's the point, I suppose.

God, it never occurred to me that he ran away at the end and just left her there! Jeez. I'd like to think not, but I just don't know. It's ambiguous enough to go either way.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:37 PM on October 30, 2016

The ending is the best part for me. She’s just sitting there awkwardly, completely exposed and vulnerable and stuck. She’s so helpless and dependent on him to return. And you never know if he will. In all the other scenarios in this film you get to find out how the characters really feel about love, but this one is truest to how it really is, that you never really know.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:07 AM on July 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Wow, I didn’t even consider that he would run away. What was the Five Easy Pieces reference I missed?

The part that left me wondering was how she seemed to look up at the waiter when he refilled her glass. Almost like she could see him. My first (probably wrong) response was “maybe she isn’t blind after all?” Like maybe the blindness was temporary. Which would make it even more ironic if he wound up blinding himself for real. But again, probably wrong.

In the end, my takeaway from the movie is that our insistence that we find a “perfect match” is what’s keeping us lonely. A man feeling the need to blind himself so he can be with the woman he loves is a perfect illustration of that.
posted by panama joe at 12:37 PM on May 18

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