Hopelessness and Absurdity in Lanthimos’ “Lobster” (Alicia Ferrández Cros)

In this clip of Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2016), two of the characters fight over the two opposing positions that are found throughout the film. In a world in which you must pair off with someone, or else become an animal if the attempt proves unsuccessful, David (Colin Farrell) finds himself torn between both options, especially when he has the chance to escape and join an anarchist group that despises this system of pairing.

In the above sequence, Robert (John C. Reilly) talks about his desire to become a parrot, as he seems to have accepted the fact that he might not find anyone to marry, while offending John (Ben Whishaw) by suggesting that he could suffer the same fate as him. As explained by Thomas Nagel in his essay ‘The Absurd’, the humour and absurdity of this scene works through the perspective we are given of both characters whilst fighting. The viewer is able to take a step back and realise that, as it happens, both views are ridiculous.

Lanthimos doesn’t offer an alternative here to the contrasting views; if anything, he brings into the table the aforementioned anarchism that it’s no better than the former option (as this also results in extreme consequences if the rules are broken). Following what Nagel suggests must be done when the meaninglessness of the world is out in the open, the film accepts the absurdity of the society we live in –in which it’s imperative that you find someone to spend the rest of your life with, or else be alone forever– through black comedy and irony. In the end, we are all doomed to either search for a partner to be with or embrace solitude if the former fails; at any rate, trying to deny it seems to lead nowhere.

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