I wasn’t planning on reviewing this film but then Lightle said she’d like to see me do it and I thought I might as well. (If she asked me to jump off a cliff, would I…? Perhaps.)
Forgive me for this probably rather fragmented post as I try to remember the subtle nuances of the storyline, performances and the head scratching final scene. I usually try to review right after I’ve seen a film while it’s fresh in my mind but it’s now been several weeks.
*If you haven’t seen this film and don’t want spoilers, I would skip this tbh. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.*
Also, there were bits I don’t think I understood so if you have any comments such as “Are you straight tripping’, Gurl? It obviously meant this…” then I am open to your thoughts and interpretations. We’re all about sharing and caring round these parts.
The Lobster (2015)
IMDB Synopsis: 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.
The City has pretty tough rules about being single. If you are, even if you’re divorced or widowed, you’re required to go and stay at The Hotel, where you have 45 days to find a partner or you’ll be turned into an animal. (Harsh).
It’s not all bad though, I mean you get to choose your animal. I’d be a big cat or a wolf but when choosing it is advised that you’re careful not to aim for something that makes easy prey. Colin Farrell’s David wisely chooses the lobster, hence the title of this film.
David has just arrived at The Hotel after his wife leaves him. He is accompanied by his brother Bob, who is now a dog. Bob and David don’t talk much which actually bothered me a lot. (Timothy, if you were turn into an animal and I was your sole carer, I would talk to you all the time).
The Hotel has a string of rules including no masturbation (sexual stimulation without climax is mandatory and performed by a disinterested maid (Ariane Labed)).
All visitors must wear the uniforms provided (all men in identical suits/women in identical floral dresses) and they must also hunt ‘The Loners’ (who are escapees from The Hotel) if they want to extend their stays. For each captured escapee, a visitor earns an extra day.
David adapts quickly and makes two new friends, Man with Lisp (Reilly) and Limping Man (Whishaw). Man with Lisp gets caught wanking in his room and is publically punished by having his hand burnt in a toaster. (We’ve all been there, amirite?!)
During the days at The Hotel, the Hotel Manager (Colman) and her staff hold workshops about how much better everything is as a couple (no chance of rape, less chance of choking to death on your supper).
Limping Man fakes nosebleeds (by smashing his face on hard surfaces) when he meets Nosebleed Girl (Jessica Barden) and they get together. There’s a big thing running throughout the story about like attracting like, and this comes back tenfold in the ending so take note!
New couples btw are sent off to spend a trial month together so Limping Man goes off with his new beau. The Hotel tell them they can arrange a child for the couple if there is any sign of strain between them during this trial period. Limping Man and his partner are given a daughter.
Meanwhile, Biscuit Woman (Jensen) flirts with David quite blatantly but he’s not game. She gives him some butter biscuits to give to Bob the Dog and then she tells David that rather than be changed into an animal if she fails to find a partner, she will kill herself by jumping off the hotel.
David gets tired and decides to choose a partner strategically, so set his sights on Heartless Woman (Angeliki Papoulia). She is exactly as she is described and who can fucking blame her, I’d be numb to all this bullshit too.
While Heartless is sitting outside in the grounds, Biscuit Woman throws herself from one of the balconies but doesn’t die right away. She lies there screaming like a wounded animal and Heartless doesn’t react at all.
David tries to talk to her but their conversation is drowned out by Biscuit’s wailing. Later in the Jacuzzi, Heartless and David are talking and she begins to choke on an olive. David fails to react and as she recovers herself, Heartless tells him that they are well suited. They begin their trial life together.
I won’t spoil this particularly dark and horrible segment of the film but let’s just say building a life on a lie never works out.
David escapes The Hotel and joins The Loners. They too live by stringent rules, one of which is that romance is forbidden and punishable by varying degrees of mutilation. Pity then that David falls in love with Short Sighted Woman (Wiesz) (he is also short sighted) and they begin a secret relationship. All their communication is done via a super secret sign language code.
Despite the secrecy, the lovers are able to pretend to be together during short covert missions into The City which they enjoy immensely. Unfortunately, they take it one step too far (awks) and attract the suspicion of the Loner Leader (Seydoux). (She’s well mean).
The Loners bust into The Hotel and fuck shit up psychologically for some of the couples, including Nosebleed Girl and Limping Man, by telling her he’s been faking his nosebleeds all this time. They also mess with the Hotel Manager and her husband.
I think they just want to bring the whole house of cards down by planting doubt in the couples’ minds and I’m here for it because they’re all unpleasantly smug.
The Loner Leader then finds a journal written by Short Sighted Woman outlining a plan to escape with David. Again, I don’t want to spoil the ending because it is very much open to interpretation but let’s just say the Loner Leader alters Short Sighted Woman’s life forever and in turn places David at the foot of the biggest dilemma of his life.
What the fuck, man?
Will David make the ultimate sacrifice for the woman he loves? What will become of the couple? Why is it so important that everybody pairs off with their exact personality twin? Has nobody heard of opposites attract?
Why is everything so bleak? What animal would you be?
And more importantly, why don’t people just move to a different city? (Lol)
I actually like this film a whole lot more now I’ve thought about it again. It also makes way more sense the further away from it I am.
Whilst viewing it feels quite depressing and can be a little slow. Stylistically it sets a unique tone. The performances are wonderfully dead pan and I love the dynamic between the new friends.
The little scenes where the Hotel guests talk about themselves to the group is sweet and sad (we learn how Limping Man got his limp and it’s heart-wrenching). I also enjoy very much the mystery surrounding the room in which the ‘animal surgery’ takes place. It’s shrouded in intrigue and rumours abound about what exactly goes on in there but we never find out.
Incidentally, I don’t think I mentioned but most of the animals are sent off into the woods so during the scenes with The Loners, you’ll occasionally spy an exotic creature in the background. It’s subtle elements like this that give the film a dreamy fairy-tale quality and also make it very funny. Dark humour is the best and this makes very sharp observations about people and relationships.
The premise is totally bonkers but also cuts very close to the bone. Society on the whole does seem to reward couples while singletons are ripe for the picking, though the film’s take on the complexities of attraction and compatibility mean that even those who’ve paired off don’t get off scot-free.
It feels very much like two separate films which is great as through David we get a glimpse of both sides of the coin; single and paired up. Neither are plain-sailing and are peppered with hardship. (Tell me about it).
The final scene, which I will not share, will drive you mad but please you immensely if you prefer an ambiguous ending.
My Rating: 4/5. We need more films like this. For realz.