The Lobster

Critics Consensus

As strange as it is thrillingly ambitious, The Lobster is definitely an acquired taste -- but for viewers with the fortitude to crack through Yorgos Lanthimos' offbeat sensibilities, it should prove a savory cinematic treat.

88%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 249

64%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 34,057
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Movie Info

Colin Farrell stars as David, a man who has just been dumped by his wife. To make matters worse, David lives in a society where single people have 45 days to find true love, or else they are turned into the animal of their choice and released into the woods. David is kept at the mysterious hotel while he searches for a new partner, and after several romantic misadventures decides to make a daring escape to abandon this world. He ultimately joins up with a rebel faction known as The Loners, a group founded on a complete rejection of romance. But once there David meets an enigmatic stranger (Rachel Weisz) who stirs up unexpected and strong feelings within him... At once a full immersion into a strange and surreal world, and a witty and clever reflection of our own society, THE LOBSTER is a thrillingly audacious vision fully brought to life by Lanthimos and his terrific cast. The filmmaker displays a completely singular style and mastery of tone, finding the perfect balance between sharp-edged satire and romantic fable that entertains its audience while also leaving them with lots to reflect on long after the credits have rolled.

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Cast

Rachel Weisz
as Short Sighted Woman
Léa Seydoux
as Loner Leader
Ben Whishaw
as The Limping Man
John C. Reilly
as Lisping Man
Olivia Colman
as Hotel Manager
Jessica Barden
as Nosebleed Woman
Angeliki Papoulia
as Heartless Woman
Ashley Jensen
as Biscuit Woman
Michael Smiley
as Loner Swimmer
Ariane Labed
as The Maid
Rosanna Hoult
as David's wife
Ewen Macintosh
as Trainer Waiter - Shooting Range
Anthony Dougall
as 70 Year Old Waiter
Jacqueline Abrahams
as Donkey Shooter
Sean Duggan
as Guard Waiter
Roland Ferrandi
as Loner Leader's Father
Robert Heaney
as Restaurant Waiter
Patrick Malone
as Campari Man
Kevin McCormack
as Police Officer 2
Kathy Kelly
as Police Officer 1
Garry Mountaine
as Hotel Manager's Partner
Judi King Murphy
as Guest Room 104
Laoise Murphy
as Girl Child
Imelda Nagle Ryan
as Loner Leader's Mother
Nancy Onu
as Hotel Receptionist
Ishmael Moalosi
as Bandaged Loner
Anthony Moriarty
as 30 Year Old Waiter
Matthew O'Brien
as Trapped Loner
Emma O'Shea
as Nosebleed Woman's Best Friend
Sandra Mason
as Arrested Town Woman
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News & Interviews for The Lobster

Critic Reviews for The Lobster

All Critics (249) | Top Critics (42) | Fresh (218) | Rotten (31)

  • The Lobster argues that the kind of pressure society places on us to find a soulmate can lead to reckless choices. But the movie gives the alternative - people who are happy being single - the same radical treatment.

    Jun 1, 2016 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Lanthimos doesn't deliver all the way, but he sticks his landing mightily and whets appetites for whatever he decides to do next.

    May 27, 2016 | Rating: B | Full Review…
  • If you're open to embracing a film that declines to pander to expectations, you should definitely make a date with "The Lobster."

    May 27, 2016 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Lanthimos forgoes easy sentiments about the transformative power of love; this may turn off some viewers, but there's a certain liberation and even some relief in knowing that societal pressure to settle down can be just as cruel as loneliness.

    May 26, 2016 | Full Review…
  • Highly original and mordantly funny. Perfect for fans of Franz Kafka, Charlie Kaufman and other bleak surrealists.

    May 26, 2016 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

    Rafer Guzman

    Newsday
    Top Critic
  • Lanthimos's unsettling tour de force reminds us of how chained to coupledom dignity remains at both the private and public level.

    May 26, 2016 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Lobster

  • Mar 05, 2017
    Disputing which genre The Lobster falls under is the most interesting aspect of it. If you don't find a partner within 45 days, you become transformed into an animal of your choosing. On the surface, the premise is absurd and most of the movie comes off in the same way. The monotone dialogue and bleak scenery are metaphors for how modern dating is largely based on technology and texting, which can oftentimes feel void of all emotion and chemistry. The film is so bleak and depressing that it oftentimes feels like a strange nightmare. The delivery of the dialogue is supposed to be considered comedy, but it rarely ever rises above mildly humorous. It undoubtedly encourages you to compare your own views on relationships with the social undertones it presents to the audience, but The Lobster runs low on entertainment value. It's one of those films that's part of the curriculum of a college level English course that isn't meant to entertain you, but to educate you.
    Kevin M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 02, 2017
    When people decry the relentless slate of sequels, remakes, and redundancy from the Hollywood assembly line, they're looking for something original and different, and there may be no movie more different this year than Yorgos Lanthimos's The Lobster. David (Colin Farrell) is the newest guest at the Hotel, a place for singles to find their true love. He has 40 days to fall in love with a compatible mate or else he will be transformed into an animal of his choice (hence the title, David's choice). The people at the hotel are all in competition to find their mate. Outside the confines of the hotel, in the woods, are dreaded single people, those who ignored the rules of society. They are to be feared and hotel guests are rewarded for capturing wild singles on weekly hunting trips. One way or another, David is going to have to decide his place in society as a person or animal. The Lobster is daringly different, wildly imaginative, and drops you into the middle of its cracked, alternative landscape and expects you to pick things up as you go. It's something that the writer/director already achieved with chilling, car-crash fascination in Dogtooth, a dark parable about extreme parental protection that crossed over into abuse. This is a world that opens with a distraught woman driving a long distance just so she can shoot a donkey in the head. Who is this woman? Why would she purposely murder this animal? Why is she so emotionally invested? And with that jarring act of peculiar violence, we're off. We're never told how this world came to be, it just simply is. There isn't any extensive exposition save for one initial sit down David has with hotel management to determine what animal he'd like to turn into at the end of his stay if unsuccessful in love. There's a genuine sense of authenticity to this deeply weird place and the characters all play it with straight-laced absurdity, which makes the satire land even harder. It sells even the most bizarre aspects, like the ongoing visual incongruity of wild animals just trotting around the background. You can sit back and think, "I wonder what that peacock's story was, or that donkey, etc." It's abnormal background pieces that add to the context of the world. I loved discovering new little wrinkles and rules to Lanthimos' world that made perfect sense within its parameters. In a world where coupling is the only goal, of course masturbation would be a punishable crime. I enjoyed that there are other means guests have to stay at the hotel, chief among them hunting down the loners in the woods, which allow the more awkward or anti-social guests added time at the expense of others. Even in a world this bizarre, there are people who are making their own way, including the revolutionaries in the woods (more on them later). The movie is exceedingly funny and so matter-of-fact about its peculiarities to make it even funnier. The movie straddles the line between skewed ironic romance and cynicism, so I'm not surprised it's rubbed people the wrong way. This can be a pretty dark movie and that's even before the violence against animals/former people. It's certainly written from the point of view of someone who is single and those currently in that category will likely relate the most to the film's strident social commentary. "It's no coincidence the targets are shaped like single people," a man says in reference to target outlines. The pressures can seem absurd in their own regard, and the film has a clever concoction where the "happy couples" are merely two people who share a superficial physical trait. These two people are near-sighted. These two people get nosebleeds. These two people have a limp. Even the characters are named after their physical depictions, like The Limping Man and Short-Sighted Woman. It's not exactly subtle but the satiric effect is still effective. The hotel manager says, to a newly cemented couple, "If you encounter any problems you cannot resolve yourselves, you will be assigned children, that usually helps." There's a sad woman played by Ashley Jensen (TV's Extras, Ugly Betty) who is desperate for companionship, offering sexual favors to any man who might just alleviate her loneliness. She is ignored and often threatens to kill herself, and then one day she does it by jumping out a hotel window, but she's not successful. It's one more dark, awful ironic point of suffering for this woman, and she screams in agony while others ignore her, including a clearly affected David, still trying to play indifferent to win over the hard-hearted woman he sees as his best way out of the hotel. It's a hard moment to process but one that made me admire the film even more for the cold courage of its convictions. Supplementing the dark satire is an off-kilter romance that emerges halfway through the film once David escapes the hotel. He finally meets up with the source of our narration, the Short-Sighted Woman (Rachel Weisz). It's here that the movie shows glimmers of hope for the hopeless as David and this woman are drawn to one another. They're in a world of outcasts but the rules of those in the forest do not allow coupling. They reject the expectations of the ruling order, and so they must remain resolutely single. the only time David and the Short-Sighted Woman can be open with their affection is when they go undercover into the city, posing as a couple, and getting a chance to kiss with abandon, all as a cover of course. They build up their own secret non-verbal language to communicate their feelings, much like a couple builds its own personal shorthand and inside jokes. The loners are only to listen to music individually and dance the same, but David and the Short-Sighted Woman synch their CD players to listen to the same track, to simulate like they are sharing a dance together even if not in proximity. It's here where The Lobster becomes a beguiling and surprising love story and one where the heartless may grow a heart, watching two odd people find one another in such an odd world. However, Lanthimos does not let this emergence of romance blunt his message. The loner leader (Lea Seydoux) suspects coupling in her group and goes to some pretty drastic lengths to test the fortitude of feelings between David and his secret girlfriend. It's like getting cold water dumped on the runaway spell of optimism. The fitting ending is left in ambiguity for the audience to determine whether they were meant to be after all. It's also in the second half of The Lobster that the movie loses some of its grandeur and momentum. We're introduced to a new primary setting with new rules to adapt to and a new order to follow, and there's a general interest to discovering another competing area of this landscape with a diametrically opposed social order. They punish people by mutilating parts that come into affectionate contact with another person. We see a couple with bandages around their red, swollen mouths, and then the reference of the "red intercourse" makes your imagination fill in the horrific blanks. David has left one regime dictating his life to another regime dictating his life, but they just aren't as interesting. It feels like the film is starting to repeat itself. I would say the second half world building isn't as compelling as the first but that's why the romance emerges, something for the audience to root for. Now that he's finally found someone he connects with they're not allowed to be together. There's never a shortage of irony in a Lanthimos movie. The actors are perfectly in synch with the strange rhythms of this world, and Farrell (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) and Weisz (The Light Between Oceans) deserve special attention for their committed performances. Farrell gained 40 pounds for the role, which seems to have translated right into his stint on season two of HBO's True Detective. He's a schlubby guy that's still mourning the deterioration of his marriage and larger society is insisting he get over it. He has only 40 days to recover or he'll be plucked from the ranks of humanity. There's great sadness tinged in his nonchalant responses to the absurd realities of this world, and Farrell keeps finding ways to make you laugh and wince. Weisz is our placid voice into the strange new world and it helps establish a sense of grounding as well as connection to her character when she eventually emerges. She injects a palpable sense of yearning to her character, especially once David is in reach and they begin their relationship. It's got the cute romantic comedy staples but on its own terms, and seeing Weisz smile warmly is a pleasure in a morbid movie. The Lobster is a romance for our age and an indictment of the romance of our age, an era where the swipe of a finger on an app is the arbitrator of contemporary dating. It's a satire on our fixation of coupledom and being in relationships even when they're not sensible. It's a cracked fairy tale that punctuates the romantic love we've watched distilled to an essence in Hollywood movies. It's a surreal and dark movie that manages to become emotionally moving and poignant, leaving on a note of uncertainty enough for different factions in the audience to interpret as either hopeful or hopeless. The Lobster is a unique movie with a singular artistic voice that dominates every shape of the narrative, the characters, and the boundaries of this fantastic alternative world. I imagine my depth of feeling for the movie will only grow the more I watch it. This isn't an overwhelmingly dark or unpleasant movie without the presence of some light. It's not an overly off-putting movie without an accessibility for a curious audience, whether those people are single or in happy relationships. The movie is inventive, transporting, but still relatable, rooting the nexus of its weirdness on the same awkwardness and anxiety everyone feels with the prospects of prolonged romantic courtship. If 2016 was a year that celebrated the oddities of cinema getting their due, then The Lobster is a captivating and unusual creation deserving of its spotlight and surefire future cult status amidst lovers of the weird. Nate's Grade: A
    Nate Z Super Reviewer
  • Dec 21, 2016
    Breathtakingly avid in its efforts to both bemuse and entertain, Greek absurdist Yorgos Lanthimos' latest effort The Lobster is an amazing film. It boasts brilliant performances from Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz as well as committed acting from supporting cast John C. Reilly, Ashley Jensen and particularly Olivia Colman as the delightfully villainous and straight-forward hotel manager. The Lobster is fascinating in its themes of loneliness, social isolation and the civilian pressures of fanatic, serial dating. Lanthimos' bleak perspective - both real and surreal - is evident once again throughout, with long winding white corridors and mostly completely central scenes, almost like everything is filmed in a box, even scenes in the forest. There's an awkward and subtle claustrophobia all the way through, seen before in Lanthimos' 2009 film Dogtooth. Definitely worth a watch.
    Harry W Super Reviewer
  • Sep 22, 2016
    Imaginative and strange. A dissociating study into human relationships, and the peculiar societal pressures we create around a basic building block of society. The Lobster is a film set in an alternate world where the consequences of not achieving socially accepted relationship status can be dire. The film is very strange, and may not appeal to everyone for that reason. The performances are generally well done, Colin Ferrell does a solid job as the lead. Rachel Weisz is also believable and sympathetic. Angeliki Papoulia does an excellent job as the "heartless woman". The film is a study about the incredibly silly ways we classify and interact with one another socially. The delivery is well over the top, but it is delivered against a somber serious background that keeps the message of the film on track. The fantasy world never fully swallows the grounded message of the film. Everyone in the story is often referred to by reference to shallow physical traits or minor social quirks. These identifiers become the only permissible basis for embarking on a relationship with someone else. This insanity regarding the regimented senseless way relationships are constructed is presented nicely against the equally absurd "singles" camp. In the quest to maintain the purity of singleness, the outcasts, who do not choose mates, end up in an equally insane loneliness. The singles adhere to an oppressive set of rituals designed to ensure no one interacts or partners up. Ironically both the singles and the couples bizarre series of rituals and rules rob them both of any authentic notion of person-hood. There is no virtue in either extreme of existence. Being alone or being together is an imperfect existence. Neither state can adhere to any ideal vision, despite a repressive social structure that tries to make them ideal. We get a fascinating window into how our own society's obsession with ideal relationships or existence robs anyone of anything real.
    Shane S Super Reviewer

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