Yorgos Lanthimos was the director of The Favourite. The duck racing and dance scenes in that film give you just a glimpse of the absurdity that he is capable of. Both Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman are in The Lobster. Colin Farrell plays David, a man whose wife recently left him and the caretaker for a dog that used to be his brother. Yes, in this universe, written by Lanthimos, people are turned to animals if they do not find a partner within forty-five days of checking into a hotel for singles. Olivia Colman is the manager of the hotel in a seaside location somewhere in a near-future England.
No one is forced to pick a partner, but you aren’t allowed to remain in human form and interact with society. Some humans escape and live in the woods; the Loners. The hotel guests go on daily hunts for these rebels. I am not sure whose dream of a utopia this is where everyone is paired up, but I am sure it is someones.
David finds his way out of the hotel and joins the woods people where he starts falling for Rachel Weisz, who is nearsighted like David. People are led to believe that they have a single defining characteristic and that their perfect mate also needs to have this characteristic. This can be nearsightedness, a lisp, a limp, or frequent nose bleeds.
The Loners have a leader, Lea Seydoux, who is militant about the loners all remaining single. Any form of intimate contact is forbidden and punished. Where one might expect to find freedom outside of society, there is none. There is just as much tyranny outside of society as there is inside. Which world is better to live in? There is a third choice of becoming an animal of your choosing, like a Lobster that lives for one hundred years.
The dialog throughout the movie is dry and robotic, that is not to say it isn’t good. I imagine it was hard to deliver some of the dialogs in a monotone straight-faced way. There are plenty of jokes and absurdities, beyond turning single people into animals of their choice. There is also a reliable narrator telling David’s story. The reveal of who the narrator explains why we were told the story in the first place.
There is no getting around how strange this movie is. If you take the strangest ten minutes of The Favourite it may give you just a hint at what is in store for you in The Lobster. This movie opens itself up to plenty of post-viewing discussions. As with The Favourite, everything is executed well technically with simple, almost Wes Anderson composed shots. The stiff acting and dry dialog are also reminiscent of Wes Anderson. There may even be some Kubrick influence hidden within. After the movie head on over to the movie’s website and find out what animal you would be if you didn’t find a mate. I would be a Penguin.