By Sennah Yee
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ON YOUR OWN BEFORE?
“No, never,” replies David, played by Colin Farrell with a moustache and dad bod. David’s been whisked away to a resort for single people who have 45 days to find a partner. If they fail, they are transformed into an animal of their choice, and released into the woods.
When I feel alone:
- Flying over a body of water in an airplane full of strangers
- Looking for my car in a dim, damp parking garage
- A tummy ache waking me in the middle of the night
- When someone hangs up as I'm saying goodbye
HAVE YOU THOUGHT OF WHAT ANIMAL YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE IF YOU END UP ALONE?
David’s response and explanation are automatic; he’s thought this through. He’d be a lobster, for these reasons: they live for over 100 years, they are blue-blooded (“like aristocrats”), they stay fertile all their lives, and because he “also like[s] the sea. Very much.” David seems to have left out the whole lobsters-mate-for-life thing, or maybe he just didn’t watch that one episode of Friends .
After careful deliberation, I would like to be a jellyfish-- heartless, boneless, brainless, venomous, and completely free.
WHAT’S WORSE: TO DIE OF COLD AND HUNGER IN THE WOODS, TO BECOME AN ANIMAL THAT WILL BE KILLED AND EATEN BY SOME BIGGER ANIMAL, OR TO HAVE A NOSEBLEED FROM TIME TO TIME?
This is asked by Limping Man, who bashes his head against various surfaces to self-induce nosebleeds so that Nosebleed Woman will think that they are a perfect match. David later invades their yacht and tells Nosebleed Woman this secret as a part of a scheme to destroy the resort’s relationships.
What’s worse: living a lie, or loving a lie?
WHAT IS YOUR DEFINING CHARACTERISTIC?
I’ve never filled out a dating profile, but I’ve filled out plenty for my friends. “What am I doing with my life? What I really good at? What am I doing on a typical Friday night? What are six things that I can’t live without?”
My friends’ faces always light up as I tell them all about themselves: “You’re a graphic designer. You’re really good at deciding where to eat instantly. You’re always at those cool pop-up shops that I mean to go to but never go to. You can’t live without your dog, Spotify, your cacti, Siracha sauce, your guitar, and your library card.”
Aside from David, the cast of The Lobster is listed by their defining characteristics: Short Sighted Woman, Limping Man, Lisping Man, Nosebleed Woman, Heartless Woman. Common traits in a partner are sought out to show everyone how well-suited couples are-- they both have nice voices, they both studied social sciences, they both are prone to nosebleeds.
Personally, I’ve always liked people who aren’t like me at all: cool in temperament as well as social status, unafraid, and sensible. Often blonde, but I hate admitting that.
HAVE YOU EVER DANCED WITH ANYBODY?
My first slow dance was to Aerosmith’s I Don't Want to Miss a Thing in grade seven. The boy (cool, unafraid, sensible, and blonde) didn’t like me as much as I liked him, and I knew this, but I still thought it was the most intimate experience in the whole world.
HAVE YOU DECIDED WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO DO ON YOUR LAST DAY?
Guests can choose how to spend their last night as a human. It is advised to do something that you cannot do as an animal, i.e. read a book or sing a song. Nosebleed Woman’s Best Friend (whose defining characteristic is her lovely platinum hair) chooses to watch Stand by Me.
Things I would consider doing on my last day as a human:
- Present at a Conference
- Call my parents, leave a voicemail if necessary
- Write a poem
- Have a funeral for my human self
Things I would do on my first day as a jellyfish:
- Sting someone
- Float away
DO YOU NORMALLY SLEEP ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE BED, OR THE RIGHT?
One time my partner and I tried switching sides of the bed, just to mix things up. We slept terribly and vowed to never do it again. Change is sexy, but there’s also something attractive about unspoken understandings that have turned to habits.
WHAT’S THE RED KISS?
David asks this when he’s escaped to the woods, where the Loners all preside. Any romantic or sexual relations between Loners is strictly prohibited. The punishment for kissing is slashing the lips of two Loners and forcing them to kiss another.
David and Short Sighted Woman start a secret relationship, communicating through hand gestures whose meanings range from essentials such as “I love you more than anything in the world” to “let’s fuck” to “watch out, we’re in danger.” While David dreams of Mediterranean getaways with his love, Short Sighted Woman dreams of them living in a big house in the city, wearing a nice blouse and having anal sex in a well-lit kitchen. When they both devise a plan to escape to the city, Short Sighted Woman dreams of buying a bathrobe, going to a pool with a high diving board, walking in the park together, playing the guitar together.
I think of the Hotel Manager’s spiel in the beginning: “This is to show you how easy life is when there are two of something rather than just one.” This applies to many things in The Lobster -- David now has someone to apply cream to that unreachable part of his back, and Short Sighted Woman now has someone fetching her rabbits, her favourite meal. And yet, The Lobster also reminds us how difficult life is when you’re in love-- it’s nice sharing dreams and future plans with someone, but you also have to share pain, even though it’s so much easier crying alone.
When Loner Leader (Léa Seydoux) finds out about their romance, she takes Short Sighted Woman to the city, telling her that she will cure her short-sightedness. Instead, she has Short Sighted Woman blinded. After this incident, David struggles to find similarities between him and Short Sighted Woman. She doesn’t like berries, doesn’t play piano, doesn’t know German. As they escape the countryside, their once-perfectly matched pace is now out of sync as David tries in vain to walk as briskly as she does (he chose the wrong trousers to walk in).
HOW MUCH DO YOU LOVE HER ON A SCALE OF 1 TO 15?
“14” the Hotel Manager’s husband replies.
WHO WILL BE ABLE TO LIVE ON THEIR OWN BETTER?
I want to believe that I would live well without you, them, anyone, but I don’t want to lie. I think I would second-guess myself into oblivion. I think I would forget what is logical. I think I would rot and not know it.
DO YOU WANT ME TO COME WITH YOU?
Short Sighted Woman asks this to David before he goes to the bathroom with a steak knife with the intention of gouging his his eyes out. He prefers to go alone, but assures her that he won’t be long.
It is unclear if he didn’t go through with it and he’s left her, or if he has gone through with it but can’t find his way back. A cynic will think the former; a romantic will think the latter. A cynical romantic will think that he will return and say he went through with it when really he didn’t, just so that he can still watch her smile, her fingers, her elbows, her belly.
The final frame of the film is held on Short Sighted Woman waiting patiently in the diner booth. Her water is refilled. Even though she can’t see, she turns to look out the window, by habit. Construction vehicles loom outside. A couple walks by. I think of the skits put on by the maid and the butler in the beginning of the film: “Man eats alone” and “Woman walks alone.” Woman sits, waits, looks, lives, loves alone.