The Lobster may not be the weirdest movie I’ve ever seen, but it is surely in contention to be one of the top five. Directed and co-written by Yorgos Lanthimos, the film stars Colin Farrell as a man who has been dumped by his wife. This, in and of itself, might not be so unusual, except that Farrell’s character (David) lives in some bizarre alternate universe where being single is not tolerated. He is sent to a hotel like prison where he has 45 days to find love or be turned into the animal of his choice. He chooses a lobster because of their longevity and lifelong fertility, though we’re never given a clue as to why the latter may be that important to him. Life in the hotel is very regimented, and does nothing to inspire romance among its residents. A disastrous attempt to hook up with a ‘heartless’ woman leads David to escape into the forest, where he meets up with a group of ‘Loners’ that includes a woman played by Rachel Weisz.
This satire is not about human relationships per se, but is rather about the social pressures and traditions that exist within human societies regarding when, who, and how people should enter into romantic relationships. The movie is very on point with its criticisms, showing us not only a social order obsessed with forcing people into relationships, but also a counter culture that is equally obsessed with enforcing singleness. The problem is not that the film doesn’t make its point, it’s that it does so in a manner that undermines its satiric qualities. It lacks all subtlety and grace. There are moments of jarring violence, some that you can see coming a mile away, that make the film hard to watch. None of the characters have much depth, although that is one point of the film, that the superficial qualities people may share are not a good foundation for a relationship. In spite of strong performances by Farrell, Weisz and the rest of the cast, the film lacks emotional depth and is too heavy handed to be effective as satire. C+