The Lobster is a dark comedy film that explores modern dating and our desire for intimate connection. Set in a dystopian near future, the movie follows David, played by Colin Farrell, as he checks into a very strange hotel after his wife leaves him. At the hotel, David has 45 days to find a new romantic partner or he will be transformed into an animal of his choosing. David chooses to become a lobster, should he fail to find love. This bizarre premise highlights the absurd lengths we sometimes go through to avoid being alone.
Throughout the film, David encounters various satirical practices and policies meant to facilitate matchmaking. Hotel residents receive tranquilizer guns and are encouraged to hunt down rogue singles, called “Loners”, in the nearby woods. Coached by the hotel staff, residents practice their flirting skills using awkward role play. Couples must find distinguishing traits in common or risk being transformed into an animal. One man at the hotel pretends to have frequent nosebleeds in order to match with a woman who gets nosebleeds. Through these ridiculous rituals, the film pokes fun at the artificial rules and games associated with modern dating.
David eventually escapes the hotel and joins the Loners in the forest, only to find they have their own draconian rules for stamping out romantic connections. Loners are punished for flirting, touching, or even standing too close to another person. Their leader performs humiliating public shamings and forces rule breakers to dig their own graves as punishment. The Loner’s militant isolation makes the hotel’s practices look gentle in comparison.
As David ping pongs between two extremes, we recognize the difficulty of navigating human connection. Both the hotel and the Loners take a punitive, authoritarian approach to regulating social behavior. Real connection requires vulnerability, compassion, and freedom. Through David’s journey, the film sensitively explores our human need for intimacy and the challenge of balancing it with individual identity.
Visual motifs in the film emphasize this theme of isolation versus connection. The hotel manager’s office is separated from the lobby by transparent glass, illustrating how management surveils the residents. In the forest, Loners wear headset radios so they can communicate without touching or approaching one another. They dance together while avoiding eye contact, connected through music yet physically apart. At one point, David and a Short Sighted Woman must communicate in secret by whispering into ends of a broken bluetooth speaker, kept hidden in their clothes. These images showcase both our reluctance to connect as well as our innate creativity in overcoming barriers between us.
The Lobster is an absurdist fable, no doubt, but it touches on real truths about vulnerability, loneliness, and love. David’s painful journey reveals our human paradox – we desperately seek companionship to avoid isolation, yet intimacy requires us to reveal the most isolating parts of ourselves. We need rules and rituals to guide us, yet too many constraints make authentic connection impossible. Through the film’s wry humor and layered symbolism, these complexities are distilled into a potent social commentary.
Beyond the incisive satire, The Lobster moves us in quiet moments of simple humanity. An undercurrent of sorrow and tenderness lies beneath the absurdist world it portrays. During an illicit secret meeting, Short Sighted Woman removes her glasses to truly see David for the first time. In a rare scene with no dialogue, the two characters slow dance, embracing each other with tears in their eyes. Here we find a glimmer of genuine human connection, reminding us why we endure the search for intimacy against all odds.
The Lobster is an offbeat film that may not appeal to all audiences, but it offers poignant insights about relationships packaged in entertaining satire. The stellar international cast delivers cleverly understated performances, perfectly suited to the film’s blend of melancholy and mischievous wit. For viewers who appreciate experimental cinema, The Lobster is a thoughtful examination of our paradoxical human nature and the bittersweet quest to break free from isolation. We must sometimes lose ourselves to find connection.