A Dystopian Dating Game: A Look at “The Lobster”

 

Release date: 16 October 2015
Genre: Sci-fi/Comedy/Romance
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Cinematographer: Thimios Bakatakis
Budget: $4 million USD
Box Office: $18 million USD

 

5 MIN Read Time
Updated: 24 May 2024

 

Yorgos Lanthimos’s “The Lobster” isn’t your typical rom-com. Set in a society that compels single people to find a mate within 45 days or face the consequence of being turned into an animal of their choice, the film throws us into a bizarre world where love is a matter of practicality and conformity.

A World of Absurdity

Colin Farrell delivers a captivating performance as David, a recently single man forced to check into a peculiar hotel. Here, residents are encouraged to find a compatible partner based on shared characteristics—shortsightedness, a limp, you name it. The film masterfully portrays the absurdity of this situation, with deadpan delivery and awkward encounters that leave you both unsettled and strangely tickled.

Imagine attending a “Compatibility Dance,” where participants are instructed to move their limbs in unison based on their shared physical traits. Or picture a “Dating Coach” offering advice so outlandish that it borders on the nightmarish (think nosebleeds as a desirable shared quality). Lanthimos’s masterful use of dark satire creates a world where the desperation to couple up breeds increasingly bizarre situations.

This societal pressure takes a toll on the residents. We see characters resort to desperate measures, like faking a limp or even undergoing surgery to manufacture a shared disability. The lengths they go to highlight the film’s central question: Is forced companionship truly love, or is it merely a way to avoid a harsh punishment?

The Lobster

 

A Question of Connection

Yet, beneath the film’s dark satire lies a poignant exploration of human connection. David develops an unconventional bond with a woman who, like him, feigns a shared trait (a love for the “loss of taste and smell”). Their connection feels genuine despite the circumstances, forcing us to question the film’s definition of a “compatible” relationship.

Is true love built on shared characteristics, or is there something deeper at play? “The Lobster” challenges this societal norm, suggesting that a connection can blossom even in the most artificial of settings. The film invites us to consider the essence of love, prompting the question: Can a forced relationship ever be truly fulfilling?

Rebels with a Cause?

As David escapes the hotel and joins a group of rebels who reject the societal pressure to couple up, the film takes a fascinating turn. The rebels, who live in the woods and enforce a strict rule of being single, are just as extreme as the hotel society. Here, Lanthimos challenges the audience to consider if complete isolation is a better alternative to forced relationships.

The rebel group, with their self-imposed rules and harsh punishments for emotional attachments, presents a different kind of dystopia. While the hotel residents are pressured to conform, the rebels are forced to suppress their emotions altogether. This creates an interesting parallel, highlighting the film’s exploration of societal pressures on human connection.

“The Lobster” doesn’t offer easy answers. Is forced coupling or forced isolation the “better” option? Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in between.

 

A Feast for the Eyes

“The Lobster” is a visually striking film. The hotel’s sterile, pastel-colored interiors perfectly capture the coldness of the society it represents. The muted tones and harsh lighting create a sense of unease, further emphasising the desperation of the characters.

The scenes set in the woods offer a stark contrast, with their muted tones and rugged landscapes. The camera lingers on the natural world, a constant reminder of what the characters have lost by conforming to societal expectations.

The film’s cinematography is deliberate, often employing wide shots that emphasise the characters’ isolation and the absurdity of their situations. We see them dwarfed by the sterile hotel environment or swallowed by the vastness of the woods, highlighting their powerlessness within the larger societal structures.

“The Lobster” is a film that lingers in the mind long after the credits roll. It’s a thought-provoking and strangely beautiful exploration of love, conformity, and the human desire for connection.

While the film’s premise might seem outlandish, it compels us to reflect on our own societal expectations around love and relationships. Is complete isolation truly a better alternative to forced companionship? “The Lobster” doesn’t offer easy answers, but it certainly leaves a lasting impression, making it a must-watch for anyone who enjoys a good dystopian story with a healthy dose of the unexpected.

 

My Rating: 9/10

 

 

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