Lobser, The: Absurdist Futuristic Satire from Yorgos (Dogtooth) Lanthimos

The Lobster, the first English-language film by Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth), world premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Fest in competition, where it won the Jury Prize.

the_lobster_posterA year later, it is getting its U.S. distribution via Alchemy.

Co-written by Lanthimos and his long-time collaborator, writer Efthimis Filippou, The Lobster was shot entirely on location in Ireland.

The premise of the offbeat film is original: Singles are given 45 days to find a romantic partner–or otherwise be turned into animals.

It stars Colin Farrell as newly-single man, and Rachel Weisz as a woman he attempts to form a relationship with.

After David’s wife leaves him for another man, he is escorted to a remote hotel, accompanied by his brother, who was previously turned into a dog. David is given by the staff 45 days to find a partner. Failing to do that, he is turned into an animal of his choice, a lobster.

The hotel has many rules and rituals aimed at encouraging residents to become couples.  While masturbation is banned, sexual stimulation by the hotel maid, without orgasm, is mandatory.

David befriends two men, one with a lisp, the other with a limp.  The limping man was injured in an attempt to reconnect with his mother, who had been transformed into a wolf. The lisping man is caught masturbating, and the hotel manager burns his fingers in a toaster.

Relationships require partners to share a distinguishing trait in common. Thus, limping man wins the affections of a woman who suffers from nosebleeds by making his own nose bleed. They move to the couples section to begin their month of trial partnership.

Residents can extend their stay and delay transformation by hunting escapees with tranquilizer guns in the woods; each captured “loner” earns them an extra day to find a partner. On one such hunt, a woman with a fondness for biscuits offers David sexual favors, which he declines.

David later decides to court a woman known for being heartless, but their initial conversation is interrupted by the screams of the biscuit-loving woman, who has injured herself jumping from a window.  He behaves indifferently to the woman’s suffering to gain the interest of the heartless woman. He later joins her in a jacuzzi, and she feigns choking; when he does not attempt to help her, she decides they may be a good match and they begin their trial relationship. One night she cruelly murders David’s brother, and when he begins to cry, she concludes their relationship is built on a lie. As she marches him to the hotel manager he escapes and, with the help of a sympathetic maid, tranquilizes her and transforms her into an animal.

David escapes the hotel and joins the loners in the woods. In contrast to the hotel, they forbid any kind of romance, which is punishable with mutilation. David, who is short-sighted, begins a secret relationship with a short-sighted woman. They develop a gestural language they use to communicate. They are taken on covert missions to the nearby city, where their cover requires them to appear as lovers, which they secretly enjoy.

The loners launch a raid to sabotage the work of the hotel. David tells the woman with nosebleeds that her partner has been faking his. Other loners hold the hotel manager and her husband at gunpoint, tricking him into shooting his wife to save himself, but the gun is not loaded. They leave the couple to face each other.

The loners’ leader finds the short-sighted woman’s journal, in which sh reveals her plan to escape with David.  She then takes the woman to the city, ostensibly to cure her short-sightedness, but instead has her blinded. When David finds out, he overpowers the leader, leaving her tied up in an open grave for wild dogs to attack.

Davis and the blind woman escape to the city.

In the last scene, which is both absurdist and disturbing but highly consistent with the receding narrative, Davis, seeking to reestablish commonality with her, prepares to blind himself with a steak knife.


Colin Farrell as Davi

Rachel Weisz as Short Sighted Woman

Jessica Barden as Nosebleed Woman

Olivia Colman as Hotel Manage

Ashley Jensen as Biscuit Woman

Ariane Labedas the Maid

Angeliki Papouliaas Heartless Woman

John C. Reillyas Lisping Man

Léa Seydoux as Loner Leader

Michael Smile as Loner Swimmer

Ben Whishaw as Limping Man

Roger Ashton-Griffithsas Doctor

Ewen MacIntosh as Hotel Guard