Not many Greek directors have achieved global fame for their movies; Costa Gavras is undoubtedly the best-known among them, but the French-Greek director has done most of his work in France. On the other hand, Yorgos Lanthimos has started off in Greece and has slowly entered the international market, never actually “sidelining” the fact that he was a Greek director.
Yorgos Lanthimos has directed several relevant movies in the recent decade, most of which have been lauded by critics and have received multiple awards. One of these movies is The Lobster, which came out in 2015 and marked the beginning of a series of internationally successful hits for Lanthimos. The Lobster was one of the most beautifully strange movies in recent years and although it’s pretty clear, people have been left confused after seeing it.
What is The Lobster all about?
In the near future, any single person must be interned at the Hotel and has 45 days to find a soul mate. After this time, they are transformed into an animal of their choice. After 11 years of relationship, David finds himself single when he learns that his wife left him for another man. He is taken to the Hotel, where he learns about his many rules, and attends balls, party nights and theatrical scenes showing the benefits of a relationship.
He also goes hunting for Loners, resistance fighters living hidden in the forest. Each Loner captured using a Tranquilizer Dart Rifle gives the hunter one more day to find a partner with something special in common so they can start a relationship.
David soon befriends Robert and John, but when he finds himself in a sticky situation, after making people believe he was compatible with a resident, he tries to escape his fate by fleeing to the drink. He is taken in by the Loners, with rules as strict as they are different from those of the Hotel.
Analyzing The Lobster
The Lobster has so much going for it. The movie has so many specific plot elements that require further analysis that you’ll end up being both amazed and scared. The most brilliant fact is that the movie doesn’t really leave you with the “what the f**k just happened” feeling, as things are quite transparent in how they happen on the screen, but at the same time, it kind of does, simply because you don’t understand why these things are happening and why are they happening exactly like that.
In order to make some things clear, we have composed a list of the main rules that the people of The Lobster have to follow:
- Everyone must find a life partner by a certain age.
- The couples lead a “normal” life and live in the city, which is the image of the active society. The couples must have similar character traits. The similarity could be something as baseless as nosebleeds. This is to illustrate how superficial relationships can be just to fit into society.
- All singles are quarantined in a hotel and given 45 days to find a partner. The newly formed couple must prove their love by staying in a double room for 2 weeks and then another 2 weeks on a yacht all to themselves.
- Couples who argue a lot are also assigned a child to reduce the arguments.
- If singles can not find a partner, they are turned into an animal of their choice and set free. The film also explains that a majority of the animals in the world were once human.
- Masturbation is strictly forbidden in the hotel, but a routine lap dance with the maid is mandatory, as it is believed that this combination can do wonders for the mating process.
- Residents of the hotel can buy extra days by taking down a loner.
- Loners are the resistance. They stand for being single and free, but are the exact opposite. Loners believe that people should never fall in love or mate. Being single is the only way they see fit.
Now, this is not a definitive guide to the world of The Lobster, but it is, from our perspective, a great insight into how Lanthimos’ unique world functions from the inside. Are there more rules? Certainly yes, but these are the main ones you’ll need to know in order to completely comprehend the movie.
As we said, there are a lot of point that merit some analysis, but when we decided to write this article, we decided to focus on what we thought were the most confusing points of the movie.
The first scene is the opening scene in which a visibly angry and miserable woman drives to a field and shoots a donkey. From what we infer, the donkey was her former husband who opted to transform into a donkey, while she decided to remain human and, as it seems, miserable. She hooks up with another guy, unhappily, and then blames her former husband for her misery, which is why she kills him. The magic of it all? She cannot really be sure that the donkey she killed was actually her husband.
Another important question that the movie never properly explained is how the characters are turned into animals. As said, the process itself was never explained but it is believed that the skin of the human is first removed and then the vital organs are taken by a procedure based on the animal chosen. After this, the remains of the human are disposed of and the blood is donated to hospitals. Now, this might just be a corporate trick and the people are never transformed, they’re simply killed off for their organs. This is possible because a transformation was never shown on the screen.
An interesting point is why David chooses to be turned into a lobster but that one is actually explained in the movie. In case you’ve missed it, David opts for a lobster because they live for over 100 years, are blue-blooded like aristocrats, and stay fertile all their lives. So, David ponders about not being human, but even at that point of his life, he still thinks of procreation, showing just how important these things are for him.
The death of the Biscuit Woman was also an important moment and we think it is important to understand the whole context. David thinks to himself that, like John, he will feign a relationship. He turns to the Heartless Woman and says that he’s worried that the Biscuit Woman might not have died after jumping out of her room. The last thing he needs is “a woman dying slowly and loudly.”
Later, he tries to make small talk with the heartless woman in the hot tub. The woman pretends to choke on an olive. David is careful not to react. He passes her test, and the two move in together. David takes it a step further and greets John’s assigned daughter with a kick to the shin, telling her that she can now limp like her father.
The act does not last. The heartless woman kills David’s dog, his brother, and explains how she kept kicking him and slowly letting him die. David is caught in the act as he breaks down crying.
And with this scene, we conclude this paragraph. We honestly think that these are the key moments to understanding the movie, the movie’s story and the evolution of the main character. Sure, there are other points of interest, but these are the main ones and with them explained, we can continue to the film’s ending.
The Lobster ending explained
The above linked video is the ending scene of The Lobster. So, what exactly happens here? As we know by now, David, who is short-sighted, began a relationship with another Loner (Rachel Weisz), who is also short-sighted. They created a gestural code to communicate. They prepare to escape together, but the loner leader, who is now in the camp, finds the myopic woman’s diary and discovers the plan, which she reveals to the leader.
The latter takes the woman in the city, making her believe in an operation to cure her myopia, but sets a trap and blinds her to punish her. Outside herself, the woman kills the maid, thinking that she is killing the boss. The woman warns David of her blindness. They try to find something else that they have in common, to no avail.
He says they will find and must continue to follow their plan. The next morning, David subdues the chief and leaves her in a grave to be devoured by wild dogs. He escapes into the city with the blind woman and they stop at a restaurant. To regain their similarity, David goes to the bathroom and prepares to blind himself with a knife while his partner awaits his return.
David’s decision was never revealed in the movie and we don’t actually know what happened. Knowing David from the beginning, he would certainly have chickened out and lied to the Short-Sighted Woman, but the David from the ending was a more determined man, a man who would go through such a thing, which is why it is a shame that we never actually got to see just how much David has evolved in the movie.
The ambiguous ending was completely deliberate and, as Colin Farrell himself confirmed, even Lanthimos couldn’t tell us how the movie ended, i.e., whether David blinded himself or not. Colin Farrell has given us his own perspective of the ending in an interview given to Entertainment Weekly; this is what he said:
It’s an original script but if feels like the movie version of a great, textured novel by someone like Haruki Murakami or José Saramago.
Absolutely. You could also throw Chuck Palahniuk in there. And think about Kurt Vonnegut’s work, which, as socially searing as it is, has an inherent sweetness. As much as he criticized the systems that we live in, he’s about as hopeful a writer as you could have. And hope exists on the fringes of all of Yorgis’ work. And with The Lobster, it lets the audience decide what my character might do in the name of love.
Well, since you say that, let me ask you about the ending, and we can use non-specific terms. The real question is: Does he do it?
I couldn’t tell you. The writer and director can’t tell even you — and it’s not because we’re holding the answer close to our chests, but because there is no answer. In the film, there is no before; there is no after. That’s the thing about Yorgos. He doesn’t want to get into conversations with his actors about backstory and objective and intention. He casts people based on their work and he trusts that we’d all have an understanding of the tone that he was reaching for.
But…does he do it?
Honest to God, part of me thinks he does it. Then part of me thinks that when the camera cuts back to Rachel Weisz, I’m already in a f—ing Uber, heading down the road as fast as I can. And part of me goes to the third option.
That he doesn’t do it but he goes back to her and tells her that he did. There are so many different options.
And each kind of speaks to the viewer’s sensibility, right?
Yeah, and emotional proclivities and perspective and outlook on the world. I have friends who are more romantically inclined and they say, “Oh, absolutely he did it.” And I have friend who are a little bit more cynical about the games of romance and they went, “Oh, no f—ing way.” Each are as valid as the other, man.
And there it. We don’t have our answer, but seeing how the movie evolves, that’s kind of the point. The ending is left for the viewers to interpret and you’re free to do it now that you have all the necessary background information.