When I was first promoted to a scientist in my company, I was given the opportunity introduce myself to the entire department during a departmental retreat. The itinerary of said retreats are a mixed bag of corporate updates, celebrations of technical accomplishments, presentations of work in progress, and getting to know our colleagues socially. To make the meeting interesting, each presenter was asked to present their favourite movie. This is a difficult question for me, because I have many favourites. So, I put the most recent movie that I watched and liked, which was, The Lobster.
The Lobster is a dark but hilarious film by Yorgos Lanthimos, a rare comedy that I thought was artful and provoking. The film takes place in a society where being single puts you either at risk of being either turned into an animal (the main character decides he will become a lobster if he is unable to find a partner) or hunted for sport.
[If you haven’t watched this movie, I recommend you stop reading unless you don’t mind finding out what happens at the end.]
Our protagonist joins a rebel group of singletons but ends up falling in love with one of them. As punishment, the fanatical leader of the rebel group blinds his lover. He persists in his love for her, formulates an escape plan from the rebel group and to join the mainstream society with his true love.
Seems like a happy ending, right? In one of the most discomforting endings I have ever watched, the two lovers are seated in a cafe. He leaves to go to the bathroom and in the final minutes of the film, we see that he is about to gouge his own eyes out. We never know if he does, before the screen cuts to black.
There are so many statements this film makes about romantic relationships: our society’s view of them, the reasons we enter them, our fears if we don’t find a partner, our expectations of each other, the sacrifices we make for each other. Does loving someone who is blind make it necessary to become blinded yourself?
We are often blinded when we fall in love. Do we need to be blinded to stay in love?