The Lobster is going to be a weird and awkward film for many although because of this it will have some real hilarious moments in store. It is therefore very tragic that it let's go of of what it criticizes and does nothing substantial with it.
This film is set in a near dystopian future where apparently you are not allowed to be single. Even if it has not been your fault. You then are escorted to go to this hotel where you get 45 days to find a partner otherwise you will be turned into an animal. From what I could make out you could choose which animal you want to be although you could also be punished to be turned into something else. The society that is displayed here is not a nice or friendly one despite people acting calm and civil. Left and right the people who are single and therefore in a serious predicament will be chastised or punished for doing the most normal things just because they are without a partner. I won't go into detail of what this society is like because even if I could a lot of it is never explained. All that matters is that it is a very invasive and dehumanizing. The funny moments come from our main character David (played by Colin Farrel) and others in the hotel who try to deal with their predicament. The acting from the whole cast is superb. It is because of them that you accept what is happening to them. As they do confront you with their anguish and desperation with very little means.
Then certain events transpire and David finds himself caught into another system that at first seems to giving the people more freedom but in fact is just as bad or even worse. It is at this moment where The Lobster could have done more and given us more substance but where it takes the easy way out of by just describing this new system. Instead of comparing or show another way. Apart from some crucial moments most people in this society act docile and obedient. The ones that are resisting have gone into the opposite direction that also is dehumanizing and cruel. No explanation is given why the people are so passive and so willing to follow the rules. There are a couple of examples where people who go against rules are being punished. And yes these punishments are no joke. But enough to be forced to remain calm and obedient? I am having real trouble believing that. So it could be that the people themselves are fine with how the system is and works until they get confronted with some harsh truths. In a way that is a realistic approach still I don't know about you but as someone being very stubborn I would not even take a quarter of the measures applied in this film and it was actually very infuriating to see things beyond your control get criminalized. I mean David gets into trouble because his wife is having an affair with another man. Why should he get punished for that? Then David gets to be on the other side where it is ok to be a loner but where you are not allowed to have any romantic feelings. Like you have control over that. David and Short Sighted Woman (played by Rachel Weisz) at one point seem to show some defiance only it does not last really long. Or perhaps they did but the screen goes black before we see of what happens to both of them. I don't like it when directors leave the ending open like this. Because most of the time it gives an ambiguity that is very artificial. In this case it's weak and pointless. I know of a way that the director could have made an impact. It would have been highly immoral, cold, selfish and devastating but it would have strengthened the criticism of the ideas presented in this film. I will describe that way later on in case you are interest and don't mind spoilers.
Overall The Lobster has some nice ideas that do provoke some thought only does not do enough to make it last. It plays it far too safe since it refrains itself from making a real statement. If you are going to make films like these then you have to do that in some form otherwise it's just pointless and a waste of time.
Don't read this section if you want to avoid spoilers of any kind but if you are curious of how I would ended it then please continue on.
Short Sighted Woman and David are sitting in a restaurant waiting for David to cut his eyes so that he also will be blind as Short Sighted Woman (who was blinded by the Loner Leader as punishment for being in love with David. She was caught writing about this love and her plans to escape. Let this be a lesson for people. Hide your thoughts from people who want to control you and how you live always). David asks for a knife and goes to the toilet. We see David pointing the knife at his eye and then the camera cuts away. Then we see Short Sighted Woman waiting and the screen goes black. Me and Mrs. P. thought it would have made a better ending if we saw David running fleeing from the scene to leave Short Sighted Woman alone because he realized that it was a very high price to pay. But if he really loved her that much they should have shown us that he did cut his eye. Or they could have devised a plan to not conform to any system and follow their own rules. At least that would had make some statement. Now it doesn't do anything but makes you feel like you wasted your time. Why? Why start a subject that anybody can relate to and not do anything than beyond shocking us or making it clear that these ideas aren't that far from our own society. Take a stand. Yes, I am talking to you Yorgos Lanthimos.