I think one of the reasons the ending of The Lobster leaves people so bemused and unsure is because it’s a philosophical ending rather than a resolution. Movies and books have trained us to expect resolution. Ask anyone what the parts of a story are and they’ll say, “Beginning, middle, end.” And typically that end takes the form of a conclusion. The hero is victorious or defeated. The authoritarian institution triumphs or gets brought down. Someone finds love or they don’t.
The resolution ending is standard when telling a story for the sake of telling the story. But it’s less standard when the story is a tool for an examination of humanity.
That sounds pretentious, but that’s the realm of art, right? To explore and examine what it means to be alive. To try to make sense of the world, even if that’s through a defamiliarization of the world.
In the case of The Lobster, the world is very defamiliarized. It’s a full-blown dystopia. But the details of the society are thin. Over the course of the movie, we realize that couples are forced to have something in common; that it’s the government that turns people into animals; that there’s a normal-but-stilted society where people live in the city, have homes, go to the mall, and live semi-basic lives if not kind of emotionally reduced lives. You can exist in this society as long as you follow their very stringent rules.
The Lobster isn’t telling us a story about this weird and whacky world. It’s using this weird and whacky world as way to ask us a question. “If you were in the situation David is in, what would you do? Do you blind yourself? Do you not and become an animal? Why?”
P.S. If you prefer watching or listening, here’s a video version of this article!
The end of The Lobster
At the end, we see David (Colin Farrell) and the woman he loves (Rachel Weisz) at a diner. They’ve escaped the Loners, which means now they have to blend into normal society.
But the problem is that, in this society, everyone has to have a defining characteristic, and every couple has to share that characteristic. Fair enough. This had been fine when David and Rachel (she’s otherwise nameless) were both shortsighted. But now that Rachel has been blinded…David’s only real choice is to blind himself.
If this weren’t a weirdly specific movie where everyone is a little bizarre, David would have other options. But writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos doesn’t want us to consider other options. He wants to bring us to this moment of truth where Rachel waits at the diner table while David goes to the bathroom to blind himself with a steak knife by stabbing his eyes.
The last shot is of Rachel, at the table. Waiting.
Why end The Lobster like this?
Clearly this is not a resolution. The story’s main consideration had been whether David could find love. He has, but the duration of that relationship depends on him inflicting these wounds on himself. Should he go through with them…then he’ll be able to spend the rest of his life with Rachel. Should he not go through with it…he’ll not only break the heart of the woman he loves, he’ll probably become a fugitive wanted by the state for being a “loner.” This increases the odds that he and Rachel will each be turned into animals. The fact that we don’t know what happens to David means the story does not wrap up.
If this was a story designed to have a resolution, this would be a bad one.
But if this was a story designed around a philosophical question, then this is a perfectly fine ending.
The meaning of The Lobster‘s ending
In storytelling, there’s a basic need to bring the narrative to a moment of climactic choice. Stories that want to resolve will show this choice and then show the reaction of the world to that choice. So in Star Wars, Luke has to decide whether or not to help the Rebel forces blow up the Death Star. He chooses to. Then we watch that play out. He succeeds. The Death Star explodes. Everyone is happy. That’s some resolution.
But if Star Wars was an exercise in philosophy then it would end with Luke having to decide whether or not to join a Rebel army and take the lives of the enemy. We’d be left without an answer. We’d never know if the Empire wins or loses. If Luke becomes a hero, or loses his life trying, or scurries away out of fear. We’d just have endless debates.
Why do philosophical endings deny us the satisfaction of a character making a decision?
Because it begs the question, “What do you think happens? “
Which is a different way of asking, “What would you do in this situation?”
To eye or not to eye, that is the question
If you were in a society where you could only marry someone who had the same defining feature as you…would you blind yourself to be with the person you love?
That’s really the mental exercise that The Lobster is. All of the hotel stuff. All of the Loner resistance stuff. All of the dystopian society. The entire purpose of it is to build the final moment of choice and leave the audience asking themselves: What did he do?
And then: What would I do?
From there, the question gains nuance.
If you’re in David’s world…
If you’re in David’s world, what are your choices? Blind yourself to be with this person? Or don’t do that and get turned into an animal?
Either way is kind of bleak. If you blind yourself, you’re no longer living the same life as before, or capable of the same things as before. Your life fundamentally changes. But if you’re turned into an animal, you’re also not living the same life as before, or capable of the same things as before. So is it better to be blind and living with the person you love, or is it better to be an animal with all five senses?
If we were in our world…
So in real life we don’t have to have a defining characteristic. No one is going to turn us into an animal if we’re single. The stakes are much much much lower. If anyone was trying to make you blind yourself out of love…well, they’re probably a psychopath and you should run away.
But we can extrapolate. When you commit to a relationship, there’s always a cost. In most cases, this is a matter of losing a bit of your individuality. Instead of being a single entity, you’re now part of a couple. You can’t just move into whatever apartment you want. You have to consider how the move will affect the relationship. If the apartment you want is 30 minutes away from where your significant other lives, that could be a problem. If you want to live in the middle of downtown and they don’t, that could be a problem. You have to compromise.
But this can be bigger than compromise. If you love NYC but your significant other gets a job in San Francisco, do you move? What if you go on a few dates with someone, are falling for them, then they tell you they have a child? Does that change things for you? Do you flinch? Or are you fine with it?
None of these things are as serious as having to blind yourself, but they are examples of the cost of a relationship and accepting the conditions of being in that relationship.
The Lobster and 1984
“That’s all well and good, Chris. But is there a resolution? Can’t a movie do both resolution and philosophy?”
Oh, yeah, certainly. I think something like Blade Runner is a good example of mixing resolution and philosophy. We get the initial conclusion to the showdown with the replicants, but there’s the philosophical with Deckard making a choice to run away with Rachael. The question there isn’t would we choose to run or not…it’s would we be able to love an android as though it were a human. Deckard can because he now believes there’s no difference between humans and replicants. Or at least doesn’t care.
If we’re looking at the resolution of The Lobster then I would argue that the conclusion is in the title itself. A lobster is the animal David chose to become if he were turned in to one. If David chose to blind himself, then the title is a very limited one, as it only applies to the theoretical of what David would become. But if David ops to not blind himself, it’s probably safe to assume he gets captured and is returned to the hotel to become an animal. In which case, he would become the lobster.
I also can’t help but compare The Lobster to 1984 and Brazil. All three are dystopian society films that follow very similar narrative arcs. The character starts within a cruel dystopian system. They start to doubt the system. They break out of the system and meet up with a resistance force. The woman they love is part of the resistance force. But the resistance force ends up falling apart. In 1984 and Brazil, the main characters are caught, tortured, and ultimately rehabilitated into the system. They’re alive but have lost the essence of their individuality.
For much of its narrative, The Lobster follows the exact trajectory of 1984 and Brazil. That means it is either using their basic structure to eventually diverge, which is something V for Vedetta does, or it’s using the exact same structure because The Lobster is a retelling of 1984.
If The Lobster wanted to borrow in order to set-up the divergence, then we never see it actually diverge. And there’s no real implication of diverging. Which I think would support the reading that David fails to blind himself and ends up subjugated by the system. Just like the endings of 1984 and Brazil. In this world, that means becoming a lobster.
Rachel is waiting
I do think it’s worth noting that there’s a bit of a hold on Rachel while she waits for David to return. The shot maintains for enough time to create the doubt he may not return. To the point where we may be looking out the huge window behind Rachel, expecting to see David running down the street, abandoning her to her fate. The hold here functions as a dramatic moment to make us wonder what’s taking so long. We start to expect David to come back any second…any second… But the more time that passes the more we’ll worry he won’t show up. It’s a nice use of tension building that really drives home the philosophical question.
I’m just saying that if he does gouge his eyes out, he’s not coming back to the table; we might hear a horrifying scream, but he’s not sitting back down to dinner… just sayin’. 🙂
he put paper on his mouth in case he wanted to scream he wouldnt be able to
If it’s true love he blinded himself.
I believe he did it. When John slammed his face on the desk to cause the nose bleed , he asked David what would be worse. Become an animal? Or fake a nose bleed? David answered to become an animal. So I take from it that David went through with it. Also the fact that David is very matter of fact in his actions. He would not have even considered the plan of escaping in the first place unless he had already made up his mind to go all the way.
Good catch. Im glad someone mentioned this because I remembered that scene as I was reading through the article. Also, when David was speaking (not signing) in code to Rachel, she asked if he was sure he was prepared to do that. He said of course he was sure and he wouldn’t have proposed it otherwise. You can tell she was kind of taken aback by it too, which leads me to believe he was proposing blinding himself.
It’s interesting that David comes close to threatening the eyes of another character, but backs down (once he has decided the man is not shortsighted).
But seriously nothing we say matters its totally a personal choice how to end it cause i think that’s what the writer wanted. I just mean we can’t draw any logical conclusion on this its simply upto us to decide what we want.
I know I’m late to this party but I had an opinion about your comment… he did say it was better to “fake a nosebleed” than to become an animal. So who’s to say that he doesn’t go through with it but tells her that he did? Plays out his life with her and others they encounter believing he is blind as well. Or only blinds himself in one eye. Then they’re technically both blind in one eye. She just happens to also be blind in the other. It’s far fetched and not the most common interpretation but that’s the great thing about this movie, isn’t it?
Yeah! I think that “fake a nosebleed” line is a great basis for that theory!
This is a very nice article, thank you!
My overwelming optimistic heart really wanted the guy to come back to that table… Unfortunatelly you are probably right that the title is self explainatory of the ending…
I wanted him to come back too :(. Thanks for the feedback Athanasia 🙂
Well, they do say that ‘love is blind’ after all.
Haha, good point
Oh I didn’t thought of that ! That’s a good point !
I think that the title itself is a way to mislead the conclusion because David can become a lobster in the very literal way, because he can’t hurt his eyes and then are punished by the government, or he does blind himself and become a lobster metaphorical way, what means he become a live longer partner to his girlfriend, like are said the lobster often do in the nature. The title itself mislead us and make the doubt of the end more stronger. We could argue that the narrative about the movie suggests that the literal interpretation is the correct, because in many moments we see that this dystopic world is a very literal one, like the way they talk and are asked to choose about sexuality, without middle terms. But the metaphorical interpretation gets its support of the fact that the two characters are rebels, and are trying to get out of the literal and straight rules of their society, and that could suggest that the metaphorical interpretation is the one that match the couple and their behavior. In this case them become a happy live long couple, like a lobster couple does in the nature.
In any case, the doubt stays with the viewers because, seems to me, both are very good arguments.
Sorry for the bad English, I am a self-taught learner without many resources to study the language.
The contrasts between the literal sense of this dystopian world and its metaphorical/philosophical interpretations is amazing !!!!! Its Great that you pointed that out??
I wonder can you just explain what Edinho writes up there? I am really wondering what he did tell there but I didn’t catch it.
But if David blinded himself, and the short-sighted woman encouraged it, wouldn’t that mean that they stopped being “rebels”, meaning that they chose to reintegrate in this dystopian society where a defining shared characteristic is essential for a couple to exist. And so, with the characters choosing to be the “same” as everyone else, wouldn’t it suggest that the literal interpretation is the correct one?
After a quick search in Google I realized that lobsters are blind, or kind of, which also leads to the hypothesis that David became a human lobster
Oooo that’s a really great point!
Insightful response and one that I feel satisfied by embracing.
What if she got lasik and this is another test shown throughout the film of his commitment to joining a relationship.
I’d just like to point something out because I have not seen anyone mention this, but at the end while Rachel is waiting, it looks like she can see. She knows when the waiter fills her glass and her eyes follow him as he walks away. She also gazes out the window as if she was looking at her surroundings. I don’t understand why she wouldn’t tell David that she could she if this was in fact true but it sure seems like a plausibility.
In the ending she does all of that because her senses are heightened. She can hear the waiter come up, she can look where she assumes where he is pouring her glass, she can hear the construction outside (I would). According to her, being blind is different but you get used to it, we just see her used to it.
What about the narration? The narrator is Rachel, but who is she telling his (and their) story to? Was it just her journal, which they found by the river? Or is she actually recounting his life in the last few months to someone else?
If he blinded himself and returned to her, could she be explaining to the hotel management why he all did that (including telling them that he never told her what animal he turned the woman with short hair into — I like to imagine he turned her into something cute and cuddly without teeth sharp enough to hurt anyone… such as tiny a lap dog who would be constantly reprimanded or rejected for acting out her true nature).
If he didn’t blind himself and left her alone, why would she need to tell anyone all of the minutiae that apparently he shared with her? Maybe she had to tell the story of her lost love (perhaps in another journal) to try to understand why he did what he did in leaving her?
One last note: putting 2 blind people together seems ill advised in any number of ways. Not that blind people shouldn’t be in relationships with each other (of course they should and do), but in the context of the film’s world in which they stress the benefits of having a partner. Surely it would make a blind person’s life easier to a degree to have a sighted partner, in the same way she (as narrator) describes not having someone to put ointment of the painful parts of one’s back one can’t reach.
Oh, and for a little while at the end, I thought he was going to become her seeing eye dog… I guess I’m just a romantic.
The narration/VO stops completely when her journal is found by the leader and doesn’t return. Seems like a very deliberate choice and explanation for the device. So I wouldn’t buy into your first theories that it’s her explaining to someone else.
One of the best ending explainers I have read. Thank you and love from India.
There’s also a literalization of the phrase “love is blind.”
In not showing the ending to the audience, the film in effect blinds us, because we don’t get to “see” what happens. So that’s another confirmation that the film is trying to get us to consider what WE would do.
We have been seeing things both from David’s perspective (being the lead character) as well as Rachel’s (as narrator) up to this point, seeing and hearing. But, as Rachel indicates before David goes off to attempt the gouging, one gains in other senses when a single sense is lost. I think that the implication is that David DOES gouge his eyes, because the screen goes black while centered on Rachel’s image. He/we can no longer see her. In blinding himself, he both gains and loses her. Similarly, we lose a concrete ending, but potentially our “eyes are opened” to other senses, through our speculation and imagination and what ifs.
Really love that. Especially the point about hearing Rachel as narrator. If David does blind himself, his main interaction with Rachel would be via speech. There’s something really nice then about the last visual being her and then the main voice of the movie being her.
I disagree about the title. Lobsters mate for life. I think the name can be interpreted that he found his life partner, which is why he goes to sacrifice his eyes. I don’t think the name just means that he inevitably becomes a lobster. Also, why didn’t he just go stare at the sun till he went blind? Seems a lot less violent and pretty effective toward their end goal.
That’s a terrific counter-point that I actually don’t have any counter-counter to. I may add that as an addendum, crediting you, of course.
I think it’s more of a metaphor, in the whole movie we see people making decisions more out of fear and self preservation than love. Making a firm decision out of love requires a certain amount of resolution and knowing sacrifice. It requires a level of bravery. There is not much in this world more real, in ways of going against our own preservationist impulses, than a knife to your seeing organs- there is no hiding from it or disguising, or playing it down.
Lobsters do not mate for life
Lobsters don’t mate for life
I found that the glasses at the table give indication to what happened in the end. When Rachael is waiting for David to come back, the waiter comes and only fills Rachel’s glass before leaving. David was feeling pessimistic, so his glass remains half-empty; she was optimistic, her glass gets refilled. If we stay with the idea that it is Rachel giving the narration, we can assume she is relaying the events to her next potential partner. The glasses represent their outlooks going into the last scene, and tell us David did not feel comfortable abandoning his sight for this woman he was unsure of; only a shortsighted fool would sacrifice his sight to see amongst the blind.
He clearly did not blind himself and became a lobster. If you wait till the end of the credits you just hear the sound of the ocean….
Firstly, I read all the comments too, and I think both ending are possible and have enough good arguments. And to be honest keeping both possibility teach us a lot of more. One point though, when David is asked to answer honestly by his friend, about which is worse; hitting nose time to time, being animal and dying in woods, he replied being an animal is worse. So I don’t think he would choose being animal. I think ending see sound is indication of he being a “lobster” metaphorically – mating for life, and both lovers ending up in the see-life together.
Also divergence btw 1984 and The Lobster is clear: in The Lobster, David’s path starting from his run away till end is not drawn by someone else but him. So till end it is him deciding – he is not forces or manipulated, so I don’t think it would meant similar ending as 1984, as in 1984 lead character was forced to betray. Actually I don’t see many similarities btw two works, except both being dystopia and rebel lovers. I especially appreciate David’s efforts after his lover is blinded.
As final note: Challenging yourself with ending that does not fit into your perspective is more enlightining in any case, I think. So enjoy both ending.
This is a great breakdown, but in this case I think the ending makes it clear that he went through with it by the inclusion of the sudden, heavy-handed cut to black on that last scene. It’s not as if the credits simply started to roll; the film was very explicit about it… so even if we don’t see the result, we still know what happened.
I think he did blind himself. I think the name does give the ending away for 2 reasons. One, lobsters mate for life, and two, lobsters can’t see very well. They are basically blind, they can only make out some shapes of objects in dim light.
I think if they wanted the fact that lobsters mate for life to enter into the equation, they would have brought it up.
They did bring it up, he explains it in the beginning when he’s asked why he wants to become a lobster.
David says he wants a to become a lobster because they live for 100 years, they are fertile for life, they are blue blooded like aristocrats, and he loves the sea.
David says nothing about lobsters mating for life and in fact lobsters do NOT mate for life.
There’s no doubt in my mind that he didn’t go through with blinding himself at the end. I don’t think they truly loved each other enough for him to go through with it. Yes, they created their own secret language together but that was when both were short sited. Once she became blind, he tried to make it work but they just kept falling more and more apart. She even said that he hadn’t visited her or brought any rabbits for her in a few days. She didn’t truly love him either. When she first was blinded, she said “why couldn’t you blind him instead?” That’s not something I’d say about the person that I love more than anything, just saying. He’s also very cold blooded and has very few if any emotions. He wasn’t as cold blooded as the crazy bitch that he lied to be with, but he was close to that in my personal opinion. The only time throughout the entire movie that he showed emotion was when he knew that she killed his dog (which is actually his brother). Besides that moment he showed no emotion at all whatsoever, no smiles, no laughs, no anger, no compassion not even when the short sighted girl told him that she was blind. It seemed to me like he was trying to figure out how to act in that scenario. Another thing, the movie decided not to give a name to the girl that was waiting for David to blind himself, in the credits she’s “the short sighted girl”. I think the reason why is that the creators of the movie are implying that she isn’t as important to him as some of us have lead on to believe. Finally, he’s a liar and has been from the very beginning. To me I think this is more of a defining characteristic of his than his short sightedness. Someone that is called “short sighted” is usually a way to say that someone hadn’t thought things through before taking action but David was very good at thinking things throughout the movie. He was very advanced at coming up with plans to better his situation whether it was getting the maid to trick the crazy bitch so that he could shoot her or come up with a secret language to communicate with the short sighted girl, or even something as simple as knowing how to manipulate the leaders parents when they were in town. This is another defining characteristic of his but it usually comes as a result of him telling a lie so I think they are mutually connected. She on the other hand was not good at thinking things through and I think was symbolic of how the end went with her thinking that he’d actually go through with what she wouldn’t do herself (like I said earlier, she mentioned that she wishes it was him that got blind instead of her). Anyway, back to David’s lies. He was caught in several lies throughout the movie, even small unnecessary lies such as lying about when the short sighted girl was blind, David said that what she was holding in her hand was a kiwi when in fact it was actually a tennis ball. At that point he didn’t care much to try to help her, he just wanted the sexual relationship that they had before and when she refused to let him even kiss her, he got upset and left and didn’t come back to see her for several days. This leads me to believe that he once again decided to lie, what he does best, by not going through with what he said that he would at the end which was blinding himself. He didn’t see her for days and then he all of a sudden decides that he’s gonna stab his eyes out for her? I’m not buying it.. The movie title and ocean sounds in the credits lead me to believe that this is the direction that they were going as well but most people hate bad endings like that so instead they made it a psychological ending to make you actually think about what they did and also think about what we as the viewer would do if we were in that situation. I like how they ended it to be honest, it gets us to think more in depth about all of the possible scenarios and why they would happen.
You’re basing all of this on love… versus survival. You’re right that there are many incongruous moments, both the characters are hot and cold towards each other (most everyone in the film is cold)… I’d argue that David and the Short Sighted Girl’s “love” is actually lust (animalistic love), and their “devotion” to each other has more to do with survival (even their sign language was born from necessity to speak privately). Even when she lies to him — after she was blinded, she pretends not to be — it isn’t because she is afraid he won’t love her (as I first thought when watching the scene) but because she’s afraid of being rejected and alone… she needs him to help her survive. To feed her and protect her.
Your theory that he’s lying about wanting to blind himself falls apart in Firth’s performance in the last scene. Why struggle — in private — with something you never intended to do, filling your mouth with paper towels so you don’t scream? He has every intention of making the sacrifice… not for love, but for his own survival in the city (where else can he go? Not back to the hotel, not back to the Loners).
The question I think the movie (and its ending) asks us to examine is: what’s the difference between love and survival anyway? After our animal instincts attract us to someone sexually, and lust turns to “love”… is that not just the desire to feel safe with someone? I’m talking on the most base level, once you take away all the other complicating emotions… Not dissimilar to how all nuanced emotion has been stripped from the characters…
Just watched the film for the first time and finding this site years later, but wanted to chime in 🙂
“True love is blind” David went through with it. He wants to live and went to extremes to do so. By blinding himself, he guarantees his continued survival, as well as being with his true love, a love so strong, they even had their own secret language. Awesome film
The all knowing
A story without an ending is in fact not a story. It’s just a sequence of events.
Its also a cheap gimmick for when a writer can’t figure out how to end something.
Also, it’s a crappy movie with shitty acting, virtually no humor and lasts about 40 minutes too long. I’ve watched a lot of dystopia films, this one sucked. Just an excuse for paychecks.
I think the fact that it’s called The Lobster is because he becomes the human version of a lobster and cold-bloodedly abandons her to her fate because he just can’t go through with blinding himself. (For God’s sake, just say you both want children or are homebodies or something!) In the beginning of the movie she is telling the story to a man who asks her if David wears contacts or glasses. I’m guessing he is a police officer, which would also indicate he ran for it. Also we hear the sound of the ocean.
Oh, and Short-Sighted Woman – why in the world would you keep a journal?!
I think the beginning was him asking his wife if the guy she had an affair with had glasses. Maybe he and his wife shared the attribute of having glasses. David couldn’t go through with the lie of having no emotions so I think he couldn’t go through with stabbing his eyes out. The title being the lobster is too hard to argue with – he turned into a lobster. I think that is also implied by the last shot being so long. I don’t remember hearing her narration after the journal was discovered.
In the final scene in the restaurant she asks him – do you want to see my belly? He replies he does need to see it, he knows what it looks like. This exchange makes it seem more likely he will go through with putting out his eyes. Because he is confident images will remain in his mind’s eye with him needing to actually see them. In effect he believes he doesn’t need eyes to see.
I found this article very interesting and it did answer some of my questions, however I’ve been scouring the internet forever trying to find out more than just the meanings and messages of the film. What I want to know is, why is society like this and what led it to be this way? Why do you need a partner and why do you have to have a defining characteristic that you share with the partner? Logically, none of this makes any sense, it’s very confusing and the film doesn’t help the audience understand any of these things. At first I thought the point of the hotel and it’s motives was because there was a population problem and society needed to reproduce as much as possible, whether as humans or animals. But then as the film goes on, the people are encouraged to “hunt” other people and rewarded if they do so, and people are “assigned” children. So obviously it can’t be a matter of a population crisis. So I guess my question is, how did society get to be that way in the film? To me the movie doesn’t seem dystopian, it just seems like a parallel universe. All of the dystopian narratives I’ve ever watched or read have had some explanation as to how and why the society got to that point. They explain what drove the humans or the government to adopt this behavior over time. Anyhow, I assume nobody knows what drove the society in “The Lobster” to where it was… which really just makes my question, why wouldn’t the writers give any implications as to why society became this way? Wouldn’t they want the audience to know what drove society to this point? Doesn’t that create a greater understanding and appreciation of the film? I honestly want to know this more than I want to know if David ever made himself blind or if he came back.
I also think that the writers were not very kind to explain their created world and have been looking for proper explanations like you have because I want to understand it better, but kind of gave it up now.
And in terms of sharing a defining characteristic between a couple, I guess it is to prove their love to others including the government. Otherwise, there’s not easy way to figure out if a specific couple is truly in love, because love is an abstract value.
Yeah, it’s very vague. Which can sometimes work. But also…not.
I guess it helps if you view the movie more as a fairy tale than a logical world lol. Then “Why does the government even care?” becomes far less of a concern.
If you look at the shadows from the sun and her glass being refilled you can tell it has been almost an hour…He didn’t do it zero chance…I know to many people like him in the real world…none would go through with it, though they would all kill others.
It’s one of the most important analysis that I have read about the lobster.
Does anyone think they’d return to the table IMMEDIATELY after stabbing their eyes out I mean come on you would be literally rolling on the bathroom floor screaming for awhile Or be transported to hospital since well YOU STABBED out ur EYES I mean seriously of course he didnt just stroll back to the table 5 min later like hey waiter I’ll have a steak and baked potato …. so for all of you who said it took him to long to come back to the table think about that for a minute would u stab ur eyes and be able to get from the bathroom to the table without any problems or umm BLOOD gushing everywhere … remember this society tracks and hunts loners… if he where to go to the table bloody faced hed give them up as not being a true couple and would jeopardize them even more by returning quickly … Just Saying that i may be wrong in my opinion but i think that is kind of obvious that he would or could not return to the table quickly for their safety … not saying he 100% did it because he may not have but dont write of the fact that he DID stab his eyes because of time . . . Common sense people
He could have died trying
From my perspective, even if David were to blind himself in order to stay with her, he would still become a lobster – mating for life, living outside of typical society, and also being blind. Lobsters have limited motion-based sight in darkness, but in a full light scenario they cannot make much of anything. Being turned into an animal literally is a terrible fate, but what is worse is allowing a system to gradually promote your own animalistic traits and to do the opposite to your humanistic ones. This can also be supported by the mating-ritual-esque body language David and Rachel use before she is blinded, as well as the presence of invasice species in the background.
Can’t she just get eye surgery…again. I’m sorry, but as interesting as this idea of it being a philosophical ending, it’s just not satisfying. I guess that’s why they don’t pay philosopher’s a decent wage: too many what-ifs, and no real solutions.
I think Rachel was not blind at the end. She looked directly at the waiter when she said thank you.
Rachel… this is, whatsoever, one of the best points of view I read about this movie. Thank you very much! Great eye! This could lead to a whole different interpretation, and nobody seems to paid it the proper attention.
For example… What the hell with the unknown woman shutting a donkey in the beginning?? What does it even contribute to all of it?? The secret it’s in the details.
I just read this out loud to my partner after watching the film. You’re an amazing writer. It rolled off my tongue and was a brilliant. ?
I don’t understand why being blind was the only common thing. David asked her “do you know German” when trying to find things in common, when they literally made up a language/signals that only they know? If German counts that should’ve counted too. I thought that was going to be in the film but oh well.
I don’t think he did it.
Mainly, the seemingly odd-out scene where the Loners invade the hotel in order to effectively split/stir up the couples – the manager pulling the trigger, an empty round, on his wife – leads me to think that David couldn’t have through with it. The Loners seem to want to prove that this love that the couples rave about isn’t actually real or based in anything true, it’s superficial, maybe that is why they NEED something in common for grounds of being together.
As commenter Jay said, Rachel parallels the hotel manager in pulling the trigger by saying “why couldn’t you blind him instead?”. She wouldn’t stab her eyes for David, do we really think David would for her? I doubt it.
All of these people want love that transcends fear (David saying in the loner’s parent’s house he would die for his wife, the hotel manager saying he loves his wife 14/15, the enactments of the couples saving/protecting eachother, I’m sure there are other examples). It is physically and metaphorically what separates them from being animals. If they don’t find this valuable love, they deserve to be animals.
Yet, they only seek love because of that fear, so in the end it’s a selfish act to fall in ‘love’ with someone, and so it is never what they want it to be. It remains a fantasy because it doesn’t come from the right place.
I guess if David goes through with it, he is breaking this cycle, he makes it real love. It is like a lot of things in life, the truth of it comes down to the actions aligning with words.
In their dystopian world, such importance is placed on partnership in order to be good/valuable, and very little on morality and personal responsibility. It’s all superficial. I think this movie is calling them all animals already (and most likely us too). This is even highlighted in the very undignified way they are treated in the hotel and even the city, which they don’t rebel against.
The only love in this movie is how David felt about his dog brother, imo.
There are a lot of other things I wonder about too – like possible themes of what is needed for the individual to be in the correct mental place to really love others; maybe some freedom of choice, richer identity, personal responsibility, dignity – things that give space for morality and love. These are the real things that separate us from animals, and these are the things absent from this society, I don’t think that’s coincidence.
Another strange thing: while he was in the bathroom, I really wanted him to bail, it was too gruesome, yet while we waited with Rachel at the table, I wanted him to go through with it. I think that was done on purpose too, showing the two self-motivated perspectives. Would she really have let him do that if she loved him? I couldn’t bear the thought.
I feel like this movie could be analyzed a million ways, I loved it! Maybe tomorrow I won’t see it so cynically.
Thank you because you took the words from my mouth. I would not have allowed the man I love to gouge his eyes out! Also, we are human and are capable of thinking “outside the box” so gouging one’s eyes to be similar to one another is impulsive and primitive – very reminiscent notions to ones you have in the beginning of a relationship. Love makes you do crazy things.
This story portrays what they call “love” in such a methodical manner, but it’s a rather interesting, and perhaps accurate, point of view in my opinion. How important is common ground?
You start with liking someone because you have something in common and you spend more time doing the things you love with that person. You fall in “love.”
Society puts pressure on you to do what is “normal” (VERY obvious in the movie). Between this, these experiences, and the time spent together shape you and can sometimes turn you into someone you don’t recognize – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.
But if that common ground is taken away, would your relationship survive? Was it the fear that put you together in the first place? Was it 2 people selfishly fulfilling their own wants, desires, and needs? Or was it love? Is that what love really is – companionship?
Ultimately, it takes 2 people making the same decisions together to survive so I guess common ground isn’t a bad start…
I love everyone’s interpretations above. Very insightful! I enjoy reading the reasonings from the hopeless romantics as I’m one at heart. To me, the part where he makes them synchronize while listening to music sets the foundation for relying on senses other than sight. And the sign language shows that they can overcome obstacles together and still communicate. I believe he was off-put by her hesitance to show affection but she was, in fact, blinded – love hurts! I just think it’s a bit too early in the relationship to be making rash decisions like permanent blindness! Ha!
Loved the movie and the way that the ending make me Google other people’s thoughts immediately after watching! That’s a good movie!
Really enjoyed the review and comments….intelligence isn’t dead. Just want to add, Colin Farrell’s performance was so flat; he really came across as a sociopath. The only passion in the whole movie was our couple getting very aroused on the loveseat during the guitar concert…..they had real chemistry and it was hot until evil Ginger loner leader stopped them. Very thought-provoking movie; part gore & part black comedy? I don’t know, an odd beast.
And, why does the woman shoot the donkey in the very beginning??
I just don’t see why David could not have pretended to be blind like Limping Man did with the nosebleeds? He wouldn’t have to lie to the Short-Sighted (now blind) woman, but lie about it to everyone else. I guess this is just another case of my hunger for a resolution, but it seemed very doable.
I felt the same, since he was lying with the short-hair woman for such a long time, i feel like it is a very likely possibility. He could just lie for some time, until she endup getting caught and then who knows where the story could lead ? But thats the end I feel.
I was wondering if part of the reason the short-sighted woman asked if he wanted to see her belly is that she was alluding she was pregnant, and he missed the reference because he is “short-sighted”. This is because there were consistent references to procreation throughout: the couple’s code suggested that they snuck away for sex, the leader reminded the maid about taking birth control, he wants to be a lobster because they are “always fertile”, and children “fix problems in relationships” and her blindness had certainly caused a problem, etc. At no point in the government checks did I see them ask about stomachs and I read that scene as him giving her a last check for dirt before he took his eyesight away. This would also solve the problem of why narration is happening and why it is centered around this otherwise fairly unremarkable loner — the narration is telling her child about their father.
It was so great to read alternate takes on different details here — I initially read him lying to her about the tennis ball being a kiwi as trying to cheer her up and to be humane, not to prove he lies, and the unraveling of their relationship not because they were falling out of love but because it was stressed by the brutal change. I didn’t read her asking why his eyes hadn’t been taken instead of hers as anything other than the kind of angry nonsense you would say if you just found out you were blinded for life, but I agree that it does make a neat parallel to the act of terrorism with the hotel manager. I also think it is lovely foreshadowing that knives came out during the yacht attack halfway through, and we didn’t see what that family chose to do with them then, either.
Finally: if we are to believe that he did not blind himself, then the movie is more bleak than I originally thought. It would mean the audience was shown that basically no option — forced love, organic love, nor elected celibacy — works out. However, the lack of emphasis on the movie’s society makes me think the audience is supposed to focus on the relationship/this being a love story and that he probably went through with it.
Sorry if none of this makes sense — these are my 2 am thoughts haha.
Correct. I’m surprised nobody took the literal metaphorical here. David’s true love is blind. Which is a twist on the core message of the film – true love is blind. We see David and Rachel as rebels to this strange oppressive world and part of the reason it is weird is because the confines of this world are that one must explain that which is inexplicable – they must provide a superfluous reason why the person is their true love.
If we accept that this woman is David’s true love there is really only 2 options – 1. David blinds himself and confirms to society or more likely and meaningful in my opinion is 2. He pretends to blind himself to support and protect his true love, bc true love is blind. He doesn’t need to explain his love to anyone it is just for themselves to lead their own lives together. There are implications in this dystopian construct but I believe he doesn’t blind himself but pretends to be blind to protect his true love.
Seemed like that was him driving the tractor outside the diner at the end.
Don’t Lobsters mate for life….?
I really enjoyed all of the commentary and while I was originally inclined to believe that David did blind himself. If you let the ending credits roll all the way through, you hear waves gently breaking on the coast. The coast is where Lobsters live…
He did NOT go through with it; he did NOT blind himself. He left her sitting there at the table & he ran away (as he should have). What would be the point of them both being blind? They’re fugitives on the run so his sight is valuable to them. How could he/they get around if they’re both blind. They had just jumped the retaining wall & hid when he saw the hotel bus coming down the road. He would want his sight in order to continue to be able to run from the hotel/gov & the Loners who would want retaliation for him killing the leader; so no, he didn’t do it.
He didn’t love her (& she didn’t love him). He so easily became disinterested in her & even stopped coming to see & helping her once she refused to kiss him & said they could no longer have a sexual rationship. She quickly was willing to throw him under the bus about her being blinded instead of him.
He simply wanted a physical relationship as evidenced when he got with the evil short haired woman. He knew beforehand that the short haired woman was “heartless”, that is what he remarked but he still wanted the physical ralationship & found her the best choice out of the lot to pick from. Of all the women, she was the most masculine which he preferred.
He was an emotionless, cold-hearted, unempathetic human too & didn’t care for anyone just like the short haired woman didn’t; the exception being his dog brother.
The short haired woman was purely psychotic. She reveled in the hunt. Her eyes literally lit up at hunting time. David wasn’t far from that. I think he was homosexual to be honest & just thought being with a woman would be easier in society but I think he preferred men.
Instead of him immediately going out to mingle with & find a female mate, he hung out with the 2 males. That was the strongest relationship he built while at the hotel.
I don’t believe he cared for women at all. They were just a means to an easier end.
IMHO this explanation, along with the actual ending, betrays the whole tone and theme of the film. We should have just seen him hanging off the back of one of the tractors passing by, hitching a ride off. I loved this movie and hadn’t laughed like this in so long. I made my father watch it with me and the frequent contorted looks he gave me, questioning my sanity was right in tune with the film…
There is dark humor to it, that’s for sure. But I guess the explanation and actual ending fits more of you’re looking at the comedy as secondary to the bleakness, rather than primary. But I get what you mean if the humor is primary for you. I feel about Brazil the way you feel about The Lobster—in terms of it being funnier rather than darker, even though there’s obviously a lot of darkness to it.
I wrote a long reply above somewhere about how I think David definitely blinded himself not for love but to survive… but someone raised a VERY good point that David may have well killed himself by accident (either bleeding out, or gauging himself too deeply), and I have to say that’s my favorite theory so far. It makes sense of everything — his intentions to blind himself to be with her, to survive, the fact that he has nowhere else to go at this point… and in this interpretation, the title and the sound of the water become haunting reminders of the path not taken. The Lobster would have been a very good alternative to death… but because David fears losing his humanity (wonderfully absurd considering how emotionless/animalistic the characters are all written) he attempts to blind himself to live his life out with the girl. Only to accidentally kill himself. I feel like that’s the perfect ending to this very depressing allegory about “love.”
I doubt David blinded himself. I believe the shortsighted woman and David formed a lasting relationship as a couple in the city – him continuing to refuse to tell her into what animal he transformed the cold-hearted woman and skillfully lying to authorities that he has no sight.
The entire movie makes you think and question. What animal would you choose to be? Would you break your nose? Would you strike back at someone who killed your dog/brother? Would you just let him lie there bleeding? What did he turn the heartless woman into? Would you shoot your wife? Would you bring in your friend from the hunt if you only had a few days left or let him go? Who was that donkey at the beginning? Even the start of the movie, you are asking “what is going on here?” The ending is just a continuation of questioning you. What did David do? What would you do?
The crashing waves at the end is what a LOBSTER would here.
I think the sound of the ocean washing over the end credits says alot
Wow! Reading all of the different perspectives here made it worth watching this strange movie! So glad I stumbled across this page in trying to learn what the hell did I just watch?? I agree that there is lots of room for interpretation of the ending, although after considering the numerous and varied opinions offered here, I lean toward the version where David chooses not to blind himself. I think that’s what the title is suggesting, and it’s the best explanation for assigning that title. But that’s just my opinion. ?