Set in a dystopian, alternative world, The Lobster is an allegory about the human condition, especially our perception of love and relationships. Newly single after 11 years of marriage, a short-sighted man (Colin Farrell) arrives at The Hotel, where single people are committed to find a romantic partner in 45 days. If, like the short-sighted man’s brother, they fail to do so, they are transformed into an animal of their own choosing, which, in the case of the short-sighted man is a lobster. His reasoning is that lobsters live to be 100, they are blue-blooded and remain fertile all their life.
However, some singles escape to The Woods bordering The City to join the outlawed band of Loners. There, it is an offence to fall in love and want to live as a couple. Ironically, it is in The Woods that our short-sighted anti-hero finds true love. In the institutionalised luxury of The Hotel, the sanctioned coupling is based on sharing a defining physical impairment, which inevitably involves compromise if not outright deception.
Director Yorgos Lanthimos and his co-writer Efthymis Filippou, temper violent scenes of brutal enforcement with wry humour. Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Lea Seydoux, Olivia Colman, Ben Whishaw and John C Reilly head a large cast, all of whom totally commit to the basically absurdist concept of the screenplay.
Clearly, we the audience also have to suspend our disbelief but it is well worth the exercise.
Shot entirely in Ireland by cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis and impeccably designed by Jacqueline Abrahams, The Lobster is visually rich in detail and symbol, from the dark shadows in the depths of The Wood to the opulent decor of The Hotel to the concrete sterility of The City.
This is a film that stays with you long afterwards.