Having watched Dogtooth a few years ago I was pretty excited to see what Yorgos Lanthimos did next. The Lobster proves to be just as strange, brutal and confusing.
The film is a brilliant satire of society’s expectations of relationships. In this world they are founded upon one common characteristic two people share rather than anything more meaningful.
People are not permitted to be single, otherwise they will be taken to a resort where they have 45 days to fall in love and be allowed to go back to the real world. Otherwise they are turned into an animal of their choice. This is apparently the reason why there are so many dogs in the world.
There is a strange absence of emotion and the bluntness of conversation maintains a high level of intensity throughout the film. This is helped along by an overly dramatic string quartet which sparks up in seemingly calm moments and a narrator who helps to emphasise very obvious scenes of distress.
Colin Farrell is convincing as the slob David who is newly single after a lengthy marriage. He is taken to the resort and stripped of all his belongings. His only companion is his pet dog who used to be his brother — whether or not you maintain your consciousness after being changed is left unanswered. David would like to be a lobster because of their life expectancy, fertility and love of the sea.
For a while he attempts to adapt, befriending two other men and trying to talk to a few of the women. Along with strict rules about self-pleasure there are cult-like assemblies and dances which are structured to enforce a very rigid idea of healthy relationships. However with only a few days left David pretends to be in love in order to gain “freedom”, and when it falls apart he is left no other option but to flee into the woods.
It is here where he finds a group of single runaways who are hunted by the residents at the resort. The group welcome him but like the outside world they have rules — no one is allowed to flirt or attempt any physical contact.
It is the polar opposite of what society expects. Here you are individuals and mean nothing to each other. After falling in love with “the short sighted woman” (Rachel Weisz) they plan to run away to the city and live together.
This brilliant, dark comedy is funny throughout — even nail biting and teeth clenching in parts. It takes society’s concept of relationships, exaggerates it to the extreme and points at the absurdity of what is assumed to be normal.