[Spoilers Ahead] Some may see Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster as just another pseudo-indie film that warns its audience of thoughtlessly falling into a “socially acceptable” pattern of life. It is more than that: what makes it so unique is its incredible use of disturbing imagery and a bleak storyline to deliver the message with indelible poignancy.
The movie opens with the protagonist, David, being escorted to a hotel after being recently divorced. The manager informs him that he has 45 days to find a romantic match, or he’ll be turned into the animal of his choice (he chooses a lobster), where he’ll have a second chance at finding love. During their stay, David and the other guests are subjected to awkward parties reminiscent of middle school dances to get the singles to meet, as well as regular hunting trips where they tranquilize and capture the ‘loners’ who live outside the hotel in the woods in exchange for extra time to find love at the hotel. As the central
characters’ days to find love count down, each become more and more desperate to find a partner. Each match made over the course of the film is based on a superficial commonality between two characters. For example, one of David’s acquaintances fakes nosebleeds by covertly smashing his face into things so that he can attract the attention of a woman who frequently gets them.
It’s in moments like this where the film asks us to analyze and contemplate the nature of love, and the role that it should play inour lives. By the very fact that if any of the singles fail to find love in their allotted 45 days they are turned into an animal, the hotel management (and presumably the leaders of this absurd, dystopian society) are insinuating that personhood depends on romantic love. Love is what makes us human. Even after David escapes from the hotel to join the loners in the woods, he still sees the need to find superficial shared traits to forge a deeper connection with a romantic partner (he ends up with a woman who, like him, has near-sightedness). However, when she loses her eyesight, he begins to doubt their relationship. Once he realizes she can no longer see, David becomes so worried their connection will shatter that he goes to drastic, even harmful, lengths to ensure they stay together. Perhaps Lanthimos is underestimating humanity here; is true love really this fragile?
The Lobster is a movie that makes you sit back and contemplate the role of love in your own life, and the clashing views that secular society and Christian culture have on love. If we don’t take the time to think, observe, and reflect on the ways that culture influences us, we too can become like David – always searching for value in the wrong places.