The Lobster

1 h 58 min2021X-RayR
A dystopian society hunts down single people and transfers them to The Hotel where they are given 45 days to find a mate. If they fail, they are transformed into the animal of their choosing and released into The Woods.
Yorgos Lanthimos
Colin FarrellRachel WeiszBen Whishaw
Science FictionComedyHorrorDrama
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
John C. ReillyLéa Seydoux
Yorgos LanthimosCeci DempseyEd GuineyLee Magiday
A24 Distribution LLC
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Violencealcohol usefoul languagesexual content
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3.5 out of 5 stars

5983 global ratings

  1. 44% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 15% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 12% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 9% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 20% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

cinephiliagalReviewed in the United States on January 27, 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
Dark allegory for 21st century "swipe away" edating and relationships in general
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This movie is an ALLEGORY. This movie is an ALLEGORY!!

I hope that clarifies. None of the action is meant to be taken at its face value. You will have to think as you watch (do not watch this if you need something to passively watch to turn off your brain at the end of a bad day).

My interpretation is that the action in this movie reflects modern human societal intolerance of people who are different, people who can't or won't adhere to expectations or normalcy, or who require time to process their emotions, such as grief.

The title character isn't yet a lobster, but that's the animal he picks for his transformation should he be unable to find a mate within the required time after his wife leaves him and he is relegated to the hotel where singles must go to find a mate within 45 days (or be doomed to animal life forever). He is given no time to mourn the loss of wife; her is thrown almost immediately into the hunt for a mate, much way one is exhorted to "get back on the horse" by well meaning friends and relatives for whom one's single status is now too threatening.

There are a few stereotypes of dating types, but for the most part they ring true because we've either experienced them ourselves, or we ARE them. The couples engage in mutual delusion in order to fulfill the requirements and not be transformed. Some engage in outright lying coupled with self delusion. And some, when the lying and delusion are revealed, willingly choose to continue deluding themselves rather then face the horror of being single again (because surely having someone -- anyone, even a desperate liar -- is better than having no one!).

And then there are the singles who've liberated themselves from the hotel straightjacket and the future animal transformation despite their failure to find someone. They have their own narrow requirements and impossible expectations -- different from, but every bit as inhumane as, the hotel's requirements. You can see why they react the way they do to escaping the hotel and the forced transformation, but their restrictions on living together as a group and forbidding flirting and sexual relations dehumanize, too -- just from the other end of the spectrum.

In both situations, one is forced to deny one's true self and authentic emotion and character. The possibility of just being yourself doesn't exist either among the single escapees, or the forced couple-hood of the hotel and larger dystopian society.

Among the single escapees we see those people who can't stand to see others coupled and happy, and would deny them that happiness, as fragile and transitory it often is (ah, new love; the bloom comes off all roses eventually). One of the singles has managed to stay defiantly single at the hotel among all the desperate relationship seekers; she's successfully extended her stay in limbo/delayed her forced transformation, but only because she is an utterly odious person; she offers no solution, only an example of how insane and brutal it is to live successfully with no human ties and no loving or sentimentality -- and she also helps illustrate how desperate a single person may be to lie to him/herself and to one's partner in order to fake the realtionship, as well as how devastating the consequences of getting involved with such a heartless person can be to oneself and one's other loved ones such as family or friends.

Friendships are also fragile in this absurd world -- especially the way in which being in the same boat (whether coupled or single) can both generate such inauthentic friendships and destroy them (or try to) when one person's status changes and the other's doesn't.

And yet, amidst this terribly bleak (though blackly funny) and absurd premise and action, once the protagonist is liberated from the dehumanizing and impossible expectations of the hotel, his true self and feelings are able to emerge. . . and a real and beautiful relationship begins. The last half hour of this film is an intertwined allegory of both the lengths some envious or especially committed singles will go to, to destroy love in others, and the desperate lengths to which a lover will go in order to be true to the beloved and the relationship after their beloved inevitably changes (whether by choice, fate, or externally imposed circumstance).

And that last part is perhaps the most poignant and surprisingly romantic; it's the heartfelt intention that breaks your heart (in a good way), not whether he succeeds or fails (which is left open-ended by the film). The last few moments of this film are actually very haunting as you watch him try.

As someone who in the last couple years re-entered the modern dating world after a decade away while I was in a LTR, I can definitely say I saw the allegorical parallels almost immediately. But I think it might be harder to see the allegory if one is in a happy (or just really long) long term relationship -- or if one is very young and has not experienced much in the way of relationships and (as Matt Groening once put it, in a "Life In Hell" comic) dating and mating and hating and berating. If you're one of those people, unless you're exceptionally perceptive and observant, these aspects of the film may be quite hard to realize if you haven't been down in the trenches recently, so to speak.

Personally, I will watch this again, because I know I will pick up more on subsequent viewings.
2 people found this helpful
Kindle CustomerReviewed in the United States on September 18, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
"The emperor has no clothes"
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I got interested in this movie after watching the trailer and reading some of the reviews. I laughed a couple of times at certain parts, but so many of the scenarios the characters were caught up in seemed contrived by some kind of demonic mind. I saw from the reviews that it was polarizing for audiences but saw that as a welcome challenge not a red flag. As I watched “The Lobster” all the way through I was having a really hard time seeing the humor or social commentary or cultural insight this movie had for some. Most of it just wasn’t funny to me, it was warped and twisted. It seemed like the director was on a wavelength that was basically the opposite of mine. He was painting a world that was evil and where love is a futile enterprise, a manipulation of some kind. The characters were all in a vacuous state, their souls were lifeless. In terms of entertainment, I feel duped. The bigger point is that it might just take a different belief system to enjoy this movie, to enjoy the inhumanity the characters often express and to be bold enough to call it hilarious.

I really think this movie was some kind of great ping sent through the culture to see who would like it and how effective social programming really is. It’s like there’s cultural gatekeepers presiding over what a more enlightened mind can understand and see. Don’t fall for it. It’s okay to think for yourself. You are not going to end up killed for being different like Jerzy Kosinski’s symbolic “The Painted Bird”.

The premise and storyline seemed bizarre and not symbolic of our world, but of the writer/director’s vapid perception of the people in it. I wonder if some of the fans of this movie might fall for the concept of “transhumanism” as a solution to mankind and believe that CERN holds the keys to the next frontier. Just food for thought. I may not ever be a member of the intelligentsia now! I was repulsed by the cultural subtext that this is the way things really are out in the world. That point of view is almost in awe of what is distorted and evil.

I think I finally understand the expression “Holy Sh*t!” to a clearer extent after watching this movie. I believe the writer/director subscribes to the idea, “reality is what you can get away with”. The underlying message, if you will, seems to be that we’re all forced into following our society’s expectations to enter into marriage. This cultural rule or prescription of being joined with a mate is the law of the land and is basically framed as a futile and hopeless endeavor. It makes me think of a song by Amy Winehouse that says, “love is a losing game”. It’s a matter of perspective, that kind of perception doesn’t seem self-evident to me.

I’m starting to get really worried about the people that say they love this movie. I caught more than a hint reading from the positive reviews that a person can consider themself clever, more intelligent, tuned in, or not of the main if they like this movie. I am definitely NOT in favor of more commercial entertainment. I am interested in social commentary, but this movie was painful to watch. Give me some humanity! What I saw in this film were the stoic faces of the collective unable to express any kind of life from themselves, the oppressive state hemming everyone in, the archetypes manifesting these messages to the audience: “life is pointless”, “the institution of marriage is a sham and doesn’t work, therefore it will be imposed upon you”, “you will laugh on cue”, “you will find inhumanity and love’s futility funny”, “fall in line! Laugh at this! The absurdity of it all!”
That is there in our society, there is such a thing as cultural conditioning, even mind control, but there is also much humanity, soul power, and spirit. This movie is moving like the spirit of death trying to quench the power and life of the soul of the viewer, trying to say that this is the way it is, so give a round of applause to us for pointing it out. Conform to this perception. I don’t agree with that, I will not conform to the demonic herd.

I almost thought this movie was some kind of prank or social phenomenon that supposedly demonstrated to its fans who among them was more developed and bright, as opposed to the rest of us who were offended or put off by the movie, pointing to a lack of taste, intellect, or humor. I suppose my humanity hasn’t been deadened yet. As Brad Pitt’s character in “The Tree of Life” said, “I’m not done yet.”

If “life imitates art”, people truly do buy what they read in the papers. Ideas are up for sale. What do you believe?

*I like Colin Farrell and have enjoyed numerous weird/different comedies and art films in my time. Some of my favorite comedies (or movies that have a lot of humor in them but may not be considered comedies) include: “Being John Malkovich”, “Bulworth”, “The Darjeeling Limited”, “Confessions of a dangerous mind”, “The Big Lebowski”, “Fight Club”, “Adaptation”, “The Player”, “Tombstone”, “The Royal Tenenbaums”, “High Fidelity” and “Fear and loathing in Las Vegas”. I felt like I was game for something different. I just didn’t think “The Lobster” was funny or worth watching. I thought some trick was being pulled on me. Anybody hear of Jonestown?
12 people found this helpful
sunflowerReviewed in the United States on December 31, 2021
1.0 out of 5 stars
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I wanted to like it. The dry humor and all but it honestly wasn't funny. Not even in a dark humor/dry/or bleak distopian sort of way. I could see how the movie could have been good, if they had come out of the monotone expressionless blank personalities, but it just didn't work.

I think it's funny how many reviewers on here giving 5 stars seem to think the rest of us are too unintelligent to "understand" the humor in the movie and why its supposedly so funny.

No, we get it. We get that we are supposed to "get it." It just wasn't even darkly amusing. It was droll and boring. I kept waiting for it to change but it never came out of its bland moroseness. There are plenty of movies that are bleak and dark. The road, Children of men, as well as series like TWD and GOT that are extremely bleak and dark but they also work. There are also movies that are supposed to feel hopeless, but we end up feeling for the characters. Pick any zombie or end of the world movie. Society under control after the end of the world movie.

So the point of the movie is supposed to be that everyone is going along with the forced hotel stays, finding a mate or death. Hunting each other down for extra days with no question. Believing they are going to be changed into animals without questioning it. Everyone is just letting the hotel owners decide their fate and it seems to be privatized but also something that everyone is collectively going along with.

Then, when Colin escapes, he ends up with the "free people" who aren't actually free, The loners who aren't actually alone. But instead of being free, there is another leader and set of rules and the whole thing is hardly any better than the city/hotel system.

And still, no one questions it. Everyone follows along with the rules no matter how wrong they are. Rachel Weitz charcter allows the leader to force her into a surgery she doesn't actually want, which then blinds her. Even when the two main characters are finally free (a second time) from the loners, we still see Colin and Rachel, so subservient to and brainwashed with the idea that a mate has to share the same defining characteristic that he goes into the toilet to gouge his own eyes out with a knife in order to be a match for Rachel's newly blind character.

(I am aware that a lot of the fans of this movie think that that is the point we are all not "getting") But my point is, why call this a dark comedy when it isn't? Why not go for another genre and not leave the people who are watching it looking for a dark comedy but feeling like they've just had two hours of their lives hijacked? And even for those who didn't watch it all... to put that dog scene in there and just spring that image on all of us was actually a cruel and disturbing thing to do.

Yeah I get it. That's supposed to be the joke. The jokes on us -the masses too stupid to "get" the movie. The ones that I guess the director assumes need to be shook and woken from our mainstream dull and boring lives? I think the jokes actually on anyone narcissistic and bloated full enough of their own ego enough to actually make that assumption, when the reality of the situation is that the movie sucks.
9 people found this helpful
W.T.HoffmanReviewed in the United States on August 4, 2016
3.0 out of 5 stars
A Fable about Ritual Isolation
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`The LOBSTER is a fable, a form of cinema I enjoy. The promise of the film isn't matched by the film's execution. Although the movie is marketed as a comedy, perhaps a romantic comedy, its anything but. The premise is simple. In some parallel universe, all adults must be coupled. Even a few days after the death of a spouse, you must go to a resort, where you have 45 days to find a mate. This mate must have in common with you, your defining characteristic, like a nice smile, a nose bleed, or myopia. Some people fake their commonalty, and are transformed into an animal that no one will love. The whole point of being transformed, if you don't find a mate, is at least you'll have the possibility of being loved as a pet. Those who don't respond to the resort, are runners, who live in the woods single, although they are loosely grouped for protection. The resort guests often hunt the single people in the wood with tranquilizer darts. When they're knocked out, they're brought back to the resort, and transformed into animals. Several transformed humans live in the woods with the runners, such as camels, pigs, flamingoes, and other odd creatures.

There you have it. Within that symbolic stew, the central story is cooked up between Colin Farrell, and Weisz. Somehow, in the midst of the avant guarde classical music soundtrack, the dry unemotional delivery, and people faking their "defining characteristics" just to have a mate at any cost, the movie becomes bogged down . Watching an entire film, where everybody is either acting psychopathic, emotionally distant or with complicated symbolic gestures instead of words, is taxing. Although we should root for Colin Farrell, somehow we can't. Nobody in the film has the courage to be genuine, or to care. The people always dress the same, in business suits, with little variety. Their discomfort with themselves, becomes ours. If the film has a message, its that there is no love, neither with the couples matched at the resort, in normal society, or in the woods with the runners. Its one of the most bleak, stilted, and passionless worlds imaginable. The realism of the characters is constantly sacrificed for the sake of the overarching fable. Even when Farrell and Weisz want to communicate, they do so with complicated hand signals. Along with this, the film is narrated by Weisz from her diary, adding to the distance thru her deadpan delivery.

The entire effect of the movie is one of emptiness, despair, where people dig their own graves, at best hoping someone will throw dirt on their faces when they die, so the wolves don't eat them.. Since nothing in the film, is even remotely human in emotional content, it makes for a very intellectual experience, but not much else. Apparently the Lobster, being a cold blooded sea creature, that people don't love but eat, is how the director wants us to view Farrell. And thru Farrell, the human condition. Everybody is alone, and at best will fake common ground to produce a relationship based on lies. Compassion or love of any kind is unknown. How in the world is that a comedy? Even the ending is tragic. The best fables, will reveal hidden layers of the human condition. The surreal content should reinforce the premise that underlines the fable. Even as a fable, the film just doesn't work, since the childlike simplicity of the fable is missing. That dry, analytical, emotionally flat behavior of everybody, where everything is more of a ritual than an action, breaks apart our connections to the characters. How much truth is there, in seeing the world like that? Love doesn't exist. Only depressed, cold hearted narcissistic people, no more individual than a Lobster.
116 people found this helpful
Allen Garfield's #1 fan.Reviewed in the United States on January 14, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Tales of ordinary dystopia. Amazing!
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The film opens with thirtysomething David (Colin Farrell)—Kafka's Joseph K.’s screen double—being left by his wife for another man and subsequently taken to a fancy seaside resort. As David is subjected to peculiar check-in rituals (registration of his sexual orientation and confiscation of his personal belongings), it becomes clear that this is no ordinary Holiday Inn but a severely administered open prison. The hotel management compels its single guests to find mates during their short stay, or else be transformed into animals. David chooses to become a lobster if he doesn’t succeed: “Lobsters live over a hundred years and stay fertile all their lives,” he explains. For Lanthimos, this is not a random choice of beast: his lethargic protagonist is like a crustacean struggling to survive in rough waters.

The hotel epitomizes the modern disciplinary institution, operating simultaneously as school, asylum, and hospital. Daily theatrical demonstrations in a ballroom extol the benefits of marital life to the guests, while physical experiments hinder sexual fulfillment. Navigating this dreadful routine, David encounters law and punishment, and even public torture: a lisping man (John C. Reilly) is burnt with a toaster in the middle of the cafeteria because he has repeatedly engaged in masturbation in his room. Some guests resort to lying and hide behind make-believe relationships to save their skins. David briefly adopts this strategy but, after a traumatic experience, flees into the woods where he begins to live among the Loners, a group of anarchic fugitives opposed to sex and love.

Survival instincts catapult David from a community that forcibly injects emotion to another that banishes it and numbs the individual. Though their principles are at odds with each other—one is a capitalist institution that marginalizes loneliness while the other is a civic society that promotes it—their tactics are similarly despotic and both inflict atrocious punishments upon disobedient members. In each case, the only thing that’s permissible is conversation. And it is by striking up a few conversations with David that one elegant Loner (Rachel Weisz, who also delivers the film’s voiceover) steals his heart away.

In this half-mythical, half-surrealistic portrait of an innocent Everyman’s confrontation with a cold-blooded system, Lanthimos achieves a level of audience identification that his previous films had failed to bring about. Alternating between melancholic and aggressive string compositions by Beethoven and Shostakovich respectively, he conveys David’s turbulent inner life and his growing sense of helplessness against power structures that want to strip him of his humanity. Lanthimos’s mise en scène is vibrant, meticulous, unsentimental, and effective.

That unsentimental quality can also alienate the viewer; in the end, David remains as much a stranger to us as he does to himself and his lover. Crushed by the violently tragic predicament in which his would-be companion finds herself, he retreats to his existential bubble and becomes ghostly, un-readable, and almost devoid of emotion. Lanthimos leaves us with a feeling of cosmic loneliness, and the idea that, even between lovers, there are insurmountable rifts—a void that can never be filled.

Blu-ray has good "making of" features (cast and crew) and audio commentary track.
12 people found this helpful
lapisblueReviewed in the United States on July 27, 2016
4.0 out of 5 stars
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Speed dating is not what's really happening at this semi-luxe Northern seaside singles resort. So, weary singleton traveller, unless you enjoy punishment that is not about pleasure, you should definitely pick the Carribean option on your brochure this year.

Outrageous story, brilliant acting, breath-taking cinematography and setting, it's all here. Go ahead and surrender to the strangeness. Just pay attention at target practice.

LOBSTER is an ultra bizarro masterpiece that feels like a field trip gone wrong, dragging you deep into strange tribal rites and --refreshingly-- new territory between speculative fiction and scifi...with a key element of magical realism and strange violence that was, for me, once I surrendered to the glacial pacing, altogether immersive.

For the first 15 minutes, I guess I just couldn't believe I was watching a feature film this complex, this smart. Though it also manages to have a minimalist feel that's low tech/ no tech.

A pinch of LORD OF THE FLIES plus a pixel of PAN'S LABYRINTH and a whiff of some unnameable mashup of BBC and grindhouse set in a Black Sea Resort, with generous yacht options.

All that's really something. And all that's why, despite it's senseless length [why I give it 4 stars], LOBSTER is worth it if you are brave enough to commit to a film that takes geological time to build to a highbrow parody of most everything western culture holds most sacred, and then tries to slit your throat, one nicking shock at a time, with a gold hotel pass card.

What are you most afraid of taking a deeper look at? It'll probably sneak up on you here, like the camel in the middle of dense northern woods, along with genius, about-face absolutely Oscar-worthy [and weirdly understated] performances by Colin Farrell [IN BRUGES, HOUSE AT THE END OF THE WORLD, HORRIBLE BOSSES] and Rachel Weicz [CONSTANT GARDENER, THE FOUNTAIN, THE MUMMY], Colm Meany [STAR TREK, LAYERCAKE] and that amazing milkmaid-with-an-uzi, Mia Wasikowska [SPECTRE, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE].

LOBSTER is one of those impeccably made euro-style high concept art films that are really not for everybody. A once-a-decade standout that, like ANIMAL FARM and LORD OF THE FLIES, looks like one thing and is really showing you something completely different. And, into the nutty bargain, quietly manages to call into question nearly everything you know.

Because of the extraordinary acting, writing, and direction, this is one film that definitely because of its quality DNA could have been condensed, 30 minutes shorter; and at that length, it truly might have had a chance with more of the audiences that probably could benefit hugely from LOBSTER's challenging, back-handed send up of social control vs freedom, singlehood vs relationships, survivalist experiments vs CCTV urbanscapes, and the many price points between love and sacrifice.
3 people found this helpful
joel wingReviewed in the United States on November 1, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
A completely absurdist world
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To say this movie is a bit bizarre would be an understatement. A woman gets out of her car and guns down a cow. Later Colin Farrell looks over a group of people who have been shot with tranquilizer guns for being loners. Then Farrell is told that he’ll be turned into an animal unless he finds a partner. What?!? It just keeps on getting stranger and stranger. That’s the reason why you watch The Lobster. To see how weird things can get. The movie creates a totally absurdist world. It’s like something out of a Monty Python skit but without the laughs. It’s quite a feat to have thought this all up and pulled it off.
Emily Marek OswaldReviewed in the United States on July 22, 2016
3.0 out of 5 stars
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I honestly have no idea why I watched past the first three minutes of the film, which showed a woman senselessly shooting a burro. But I paid to see it, so I wanted to at least, get my money's worth. There was enough going on to keep me engaged, however bizarre it all seemed.

The film basically demonstrates how dysfunctional society becomes, and how the most basic instincts, such as love and affection, takes no precedence in a relationship. As long as there is something two people have in common, that's all that's needed for affection to take place. But honesty and trust mean absolutely nothing, because these common traits can be faked. Once the couple lose that sliver of a connection, all bets are off. What a bizarre way to build a relationship! How sterile and boring!

Colin Farrell's character admits himself into a hotel that focuses on building these bizarre relationships, but if a bond isn't created, and a pairing isn't made within a certain number of days, he would be turned into an animal of his choice. (A lobster.) The premise is quite engaging, and did hold my attention throughout the film, but this is DEFINITELY not a movie for everyone. There's animal cruelty involved (which I hated), and weird sexual 'rituals' (for want of a better word), that seemed quite bizarre. (Remember, love and affection mean nothing in a relationship, so compatibility isn't necessary, as long as a couple finds that "one thing" in common. For one pairing, it was spontaneous nosebleeds. For Colin Farrel's and Rachel Weiss's characters it was near-sightedness.) And these couples will go to the utmost EXTREMES to make certain that that "one thing" remains intact. (As seen at the end of the film.)

Is that true love? No. Obviously not. But again, this film focuses on a dysfunctional society where love no longer matters. It's basically a dystopian utopia.

Unfortunately, for me, this was one of those "insert-your-own-ending-here" type of movies that I normally loathe. And while I do not enjoy that type of closure in a movie I honestly can't imagine the storyline going any further than what was given to us at the end of the film--so it actually WORKS. Much to my surprise.

Again, this film is DEFINITELY not for everyone, and is ABSOLUTELY not family-friendly. But if you're looking for a UNIQUE storyline, which will keep you thinking long after the credits roll, give it a shot. I'm not saying that you'll be swept away by its charm. But it's certainly thought-provoking and engaging--in a very bizarre way.

3 out of 5 stars is a decent rating for this film.
7 people found this helpful
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