Director Yorgos Lanthimos (of the Academy Award nominated film Dogtooth) gives 2016 audiences The Lobster, a dystopian romance that combines comedy and gore. Packed with an A+ cast such as Rachel Weisz, Colin Farrell, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, and John C. Reilly, The Lobster wonderfully kick-starts a new year in movies with its breathtaking cinematography, performances, score, and storyline. Although it has a male lead, the film's story is driven by women.
The story begins with David (Farrell) being picked up and driven to The Hotel, a “retreat” run by the Hotel Manager (Olivia Coleman) and her husband. At The Hotel, David, as well as others who have been rounded up, is forced to find a partner to live with over the course of 45 days. Failing to do so results in the guest being turned into an animal of their choosing. As deduced from the title of the film, David’s animal of choice is a lobster. As David navigates the rules of The Hotel, including a "no masturbation" rule punishable by burning the rule breaker's hand in a toaster, he finds his fate in the hands of women. The Hotel Manager, the Biscuit Woman, the Maid, the Heartless Woman, the Loner Leader, and the Short Sighted Woman are all females who influence and direct David’s future.
What The Lobster does differently in comparison to other films with a male driven story is it creates space for women. As the plot moves along, there are several scenes, moments and conversations throughout that emphasize the strength, stability, and logic that a woman can have despite, as some try to argue, her period. David has no control over his situation and relies on the women in The Hotel to accept his appearance and personality. David’s character is like a dog with its tail between its legs. He’s sad, shy, and desperately searching for love, turning the tables on traditional male/female stereotypes. Although the Biscuit Woman is eager to find herself a partner, as her end date draws closer, the movie provides room for her to seek out her wants. In other movies, audiences watch men take up space with their eager, enthusiastic, and sexual personalities, but The Lobster confines men, allowing women to be angry, sad, aggressive, loud, outspoken, sexual, fierce, and generally “un-feminine.”
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Samantha Ladwig is a writer and film critic. Her writing has been published by Vice, Birth Movies Death, Bust, Huffington Post, Broadly, IGN Entertainment, and others. More of her work can be found at samanthaladwig.com.