Yo!!! What a cool interesting movie!! I think along with Nocturnal Animals, this is my favorite movie of the year.
This movie is set in an alternate reality where people have to be in couples. By law, the police can come check your papers to make sure you are in a relationship and have a partner. If you are single for some reason (breakup, partner dies) you have to check yourself into The Hotel where you have a finite number of days to find a new partner (often through chance physical similarities like both getting nosebleeds or having a limp which seem to indicate that you are right for each other). If at the end of your stay (which you can extend by hunting single people in the woods) you haven’t found a partner, you are turned into an animal. You get to pick which animal, and you get to choose the activity you want to do on your last night as a human (kind of like a last meal). The hotel director (Mark’s love interest from Peep Show I can’t remember her name!!!) calmly explains, “It would be smart to pick something you can’t do as an animal, like reading a classic work of literature or cooking a gourmet meal. A walk in the woods would not be a good choice.”
Colin Farrell is our protagonist and I love the way the movie gently learns you these things I just stated. One of the first scenes is him checking into the hotel (I think his wife died?) and we see the registration process where a woman is asking him a series of questions that are so formal yet personal it’s unlike almost any exchange I’ve seen:
Hotel lady: “Are you heterosexual or homosexual?”
Colin: “Heterosexual. Well, I did have a homosexual relationship in college.”
Lady: “You have to decide now if you want to register as homosexual or heterosexual.”
Colin: “I think I should register as heterosexual.”
He also has a dog with him that we learn is his brother, who came to the hotel and did not find a partner. All animals are single people. There’s also a renegade group of people who live in the woods who have rejected this mandated love and have their own community where love/flirting are forbidden and punishable with physical deformation. The leader of this group is the french lady from Blue is the Warmest Color, I’ll look up her name later. She’s wonderfully heartless. She has someone on the inside of the hotel, a maid who is part of the resistance but works there to get necessary keys and supplies for symbolic missions they pull to undermine the society’s ideologies. One of them involved going into the room of the two directors of the hotel, gagging the woman, asking her husband if he loved her then giving him the choice to shoot her, which he did. There were no bullets in the gun, but after proving that he would have readily killed her to save himself they left.
The french lady also visits her parents in the city with a fake husband (a man from the woods) so that they don’t worry about her/she can see them. This is where Colin meets Rachel Weisz (they meet in the woods but pretend to be married on these outings and are allowed to express affection openly) and they quickly fall in love. (They are both short-sighted). They soon devise a plan to escape the woods and go live in the city together as a couple. Unfortunately for Rachel Weisz, she writes this plan down in her journal which she accidentally drops while they are doing exercises in the woods (every day they do drills where they practice hiding, running, attacking. They also each have to dig their own graves that they will crawl to if they ever get fatally injured, because “it’s unfair to expect someone else to dig it for you”) and the maid sympathizer finds it and shows it to the french leader. She does not like this at all and that day brings Rachel Weisz into the city to an eye doctor under the guise of fixing her astigmatism but really he BLINDS HER. Rachel soon figures out why and is pissed and says, “you could have blinded him, it didn’t have to be me.” This coupled with the French lady’s private conversation with Colin where she’s instructing him to dig his grave and says, “If you are killed before me I’ll come visit you as often as I can, I promise” hints that she likes him she just can’t act on it. Also weirdly, the french lady brings the maid with them and Rachel stabs her, thinking it’s the french woman (who pretends to be dying) then after a few minutes gets up and says, “Well you can come back to the woods or I can leave you here, I don’t think you’ll make it” so Rachel comes back with her, but like, did the maid need to die for them to have that conversation?? I don’t think so Rachel!!
So Rachel is BLIND NOW which is nuts, and Colin visits her on this beach island she’s sort of relegated to. He brings her objects to feel and guess, but he quickly tires of this. He wants to kiss her but for some reason she thinks they can’t now? Maybe because she no longer is short-sighted and therefore not suited to him? Anyway, you can tell the situation is wearing on them both. Suddenly he suggests a plan in their secret physical language they developed (since they couldn’t openly show affection in the woods, they had hand signals and other body gestures that meant something. Weisz stated, “after a few months we could discuss almost anything without speaking at all”) by describing motions, “I put my hand behind my head, turn my face to the side three times, lift my arm and shrug” (something like that) and she’s like, “Would you really do that??” and he’s like, “I wouldn’t have suggested it if I wouldn’t.”
We obviously don’t know what this means, but apparently it means “kidnap the French leader and bury her in her own shallow grave and leave her to get eaten by wild dogs, then we escape to a cafe where I will blind myself in the bathroom in solidarity with you.” Love!
Yeah, the last scene of the movie is Rachel Weisz waiting at a table in a diner while Colin Farrell has taken a steak knife to the bathroom with the purpose of blinding himself. It ends before we see what happens, so I guess it could be the spinning top of Inception where it’s left open for us to wonder, “Did he do it and come back or did he leave and abandon her there?” but I assume he did it, there’s no real reason why he wouldn’t, and cinematically nothing was indicated to support this choice. There’s just a big window by their table so it lends itself to that dramatic irony movies can’t help sometimes where we see someone running away through a window that the other character can’t see, you know because they’ve been blinded by a renegade French woman in the woods.
Another interesting scene I forgot to mention is that Colin Farrell thinks he finds a partner at the hotel, it’s this woman who’s the best hunter, who is absolutely heartless. She fakes choking to death in the hot tub they are sharing and he just watches her pass out, after which she lifts her head up and says, “I think we are a match.” So they move into a double room (there’s all these prioritized weird status symbols couples get, like better accommodations, a “yacht” is an option) but soon after he wakes up one morning to her telling him she killed his brother (the dog) by kicking him to death. Her leg is covered in blood and she describes the whimpering his brother did over the hours she was kicking him until he died. She then asks him to tell her the funny anecdote he had alluded to earlier. Colin goes into the bathroom to collect himself and starts trying to tell the story but starts crying a little and she comes in and catches him and says, “I knew you were lying” then she starts to drag him to the place in the hotel where they turn you into an animal (the offense for lying about compatibility traits) but he gets away, then stuns her with a dart crossbow with the help of the sympathizer maid (that’s how he finds the community in the woods, she brings him there after), and turns the heartless lady into an animal instead. We don’t know what kind though. Everyone gets to pick what kind of animal they would be, that’s why the movie is called The Lobster, that’s the animal Colin chose to be if it didn’t work out.
Hmm, other interesting things, John C. Reilly is in the movie for a little bit, as another guest in the hotel. Most notably he gets his hand put in a toaster for masturbating (you’re not allowed to- the maids come and grind on you until you cum) and almost shoots Colin in the woods when they cross paths again after he’s escaped but gets knifed in the leg by Rachel Weisz. There’s also a man who fakes nosebleeds to make a woman who gets nosebleeds think they are suited for each other and on one of the missions Colin enters their yacht houseboat and tells his partner that he fakes them, then leaves. Oh! Another funny thing is that if you and your partner are arguing, they give you a child to smooth it over, which, lol. Also in the woods they have silent dance parties where you can’t dance with anyone else, so they’re all dancing at the same time to their own music, there’s a wonderful short scene that shows one such party and it’s pretty great, kind of like the dance party in the mental hospital in Bronson, or the silent disco I went to in England when I studied abroad. Experience is limited!
I can’t think of anything else! I loved it very much, especially the music, which was a great example of something I would call “dynamic minimalism.” Really great. Everyone did a good job, all the elements were high quality and executed well.
9 out of 10 shallow manmade graves, would DEFINITELY masturbate again.