For some reason, it is commonly believed that loneliness is a highly negative state for an individual. In fact, gathering into a pack, a pride, a shoal, or a herd in the animal world is a way to survive. But the way to save not a single individual but the species as a whole. However, there are also singles among “our smaller brethren” who make a short-lived alliance only for the mating season. These are foxes, bears, crocodiles, badgers, rhinoceroses, squirrels, and many other creatures that prefer the solitary way of life. Even talking about lobsters. Let them keep their fertility up to a hundred years, but they absolutely do not need a pair.
As for primates, there are species-related differences. Primates live singly, in pairs, and hierarchically regulated groups. But if among the apes, a particular species (chimpanzees, gorillas, macaques, etc.) dictate this or that algorithm of social life, while humans belong to the same species but tend to have different ways of existence. There are hermits, couples, and company lovers.
Loneliness is a crime.
In the anti-utopian, totalitarian society that we see in the film “The Lobster” by the Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, the personal tendencies of the different members of homo sapiens are not taken into account by the state. Everyone is obliged to be part of a couple, and it does not matter if they are homosexual or heterosexual. The police relentlessly catch singles in public places like supermarkets, check their documents, and, if the absence of a partner is proven, send them to a special comfortable hotel, a kind of dating club. It’s true, with a tinge of a concentration camp.
Three circumstances hang over the “lonely hearts” in the hotel as swords of Damocles:
- You must make a couple before the 45 days are up.
- You can only choose a partner on the basis of the same and only traits.
- Poor souls who don’t make it are turned into animals and sent to the forest.
A step to the right and to the left in this society is considered an escape. Everything is regulated, and the nuances are not recognized: you cannot choose the shoe size 44.5, only 44 or 45. It is the same with orientation, homo- or hetero-; there is no third choice.
Only one good thing: the animal for the forced transformation can be chosen according to one’s own taste. Divorced forty-year-old architect David (Colin Farrell), if he is not lucky enough to “find a soul mate,” wants to spend his remaining days as a lobster. This member of the family of large marine crustaceans is able to reproduce until old age, and he has blue blood, just like the aristocrats. David is also very fond of the sea. However, in most cases, the choice of doomed losers stops at the friend of man – a dog.
“That’s why there are so many dogs in the world.”
The hotel staff demonstrates to the residents the charms of being a couple and the horrors of loneliness with unsophisticated sketches during the training sessions in the auditorium. But it is not the possibility of being without a partner in a difficult situation that scares the diligently applauding audience, but the impending reincarnation.
In an effort to avoid being exiled in the guise of an animal, hotel customers go-to tricks. John (Ben Whishaw) fakes nosebleeds to resemble one of the young ladies who actually suffer from them, and the phlegmatic, intelligent David pretends to be a violent monster, wanting to get close to a heartless woman. However, for a long time. His acting skills were not long enough: he could not hide his tears when his chosen one brutally murdered his hapless brother who arrived at the hotel with David, and a second year existed in the body of a dog.
Loneliness is an obligation.
Having taken revenge on the fierce lady (having independently accomplished her transformation into an unnamed animal), David escapes into the wild, into the pampas, that is, into the woods. The hotel guests hunt the outcasts of society who dwell in the scrub on a daily basis. A tranquilizer dart shot and voila, the paralyzed loner is ready to be transformed into another animal, with which the thicket is teeming, and the apt hunter gets another preferential day at the hotel. The famous Chekhov shotgun hangs on the wall of every hotel room for a reason.
Not everything, however, is so rosy in the “free” guerrilla group. He finds himself in the company of wandering through the woods and occasionally staging sabotage from time to time; David finds himself in another strictly regulated society. Only with a minus sign. The forest world mirrors the world of the hotel. It’s the same dictatorship, only upside down. Instead of matrimonial “twisting arms” – the dictate of militant egocentrism. All expressions of human feelings are forbidden. Dancing at a “pioneer” distance to electronic music (everyone has their own headphones and tunes. Kisses are punishable by lip amputation. And no mutual assistance. Even the grave, if anything, no one will dig for the deceased: You have to dig it yourself in advance. And try it on to see if it fits.
“Have you dug your own grave yet?”
The grave, by the way, was soon needed. In it, David carefully packed a principled member of the “underground” (Lea Seydoux), deceived to send the protagonist’s beloved to the operation, which resulted in the girl, who violated the laws of singles, going blind. Such is the method of combating forbidden flirting.
Common signs instead of soul mates
David’s interest in this chosen one (Rachel Weisz) has for some time been successfully concealed from the stern leader of the singles. And it blossomed feeling at the very moment when he discovered the proverbial resemblance. The architect had the idea firmly planted in his head that couples should be made on the basis of identical external features. With joy, the glasses-eyed David discovers that his soulmate is also nearsighted! And how he temperamentally examines the contact lens wearer’s supposed rival who brought the girl a rabbit. He has tested: no lenses! So the guy is not nearsighted. Consequently, there are no grounds for jealousy: a good-eyed neighbor is not suitable as a partner for a lady of the heart suffering from myopia.
“The Lobster” ending explained
So, the beloved is blind. The resemblance is lost. David does remember: they must have something in common (a bloody nose, myopia, bouffant hair, a limp, etc.). There is only one way out: to blind himself as well. Once again, Romeo and Juliet from the dystopia will have the same defect. The couple leaves the forest and strides purposefully into town.
At the cafe, David asks the waiter for a very sharp knife (not for bread, but for meat) and goes to the bathroom, trying on the stabbing and cutting implements in front of the mirror to one and the other eye. The girl sits alone at the table, and she sits for a long time. Still no lover.
And on this optimistic (or pessimistic?) note, the screen goes black. And then credits, credits, credits…
And now, try to understand, did the screen turn black by the director’s idea, because David has become blind and can’t see anything anymore?
Or maybe he came to his senses and safely escaped; his eyesight is more precious than all the beauties in the world?
Or maybe he realized that he didn’t have to have any common features at all to be in love?
Or maybe he’s still standing in the closet muttering to himself: “To be or not to be, that’s the question?”
There is another hidden meaning in the film: the failure of real human society, which condemns the choices of people who wish to remain single for specific reasons.
Films with meaning always leave a lot of questions after watching them. “Lobster” is a prime example of a thought-provoking film. A man, being a profoundly social creature, subconsciously absorbs the rules and standards established by society. Even having experienced the feeling of falling in love, not everyone is able to develop it into a strong union without a cementing element, which in the film is the similarity of traits.