Jordan King’s review published on Letterboxd:
I can’t rate this, literally can’t decide whether it was a masterpiece or a well-dressed and edgy piece of rubbish. For purposes of illustration, here are the reasons to give the film 5* and then the same to give it no stars.
-The acting: mesmeric, captivating, surreal
-The story: intriguing, conscientious, darkly comic
-The score: Tense, juxtaposes effectively
-The cinematography/direction: beautiful shots, clinical and natural contrast each other sublimely
-The world-building: complex, sympathetic, dystopian in a fresh way
-The ambiguity: speaks for itself, I love ambiguous endings and the control and focus it returns to the audience and our own personal conscience and thought
-The allegorical and moral purpose: a cutting observation of the mundanity of seeking ourselves in our lovers rather than embracing what is inherently different, a scathing assimilation of false and manufactured romance - a cautionary tale of immense power
-The acting - clinical, wooden, almost entirely heartless
-The story: fails to tie its two acts together well, functioning almost as companion pieces to one another, a Black Mirror like anthological feel. Two parts of a bigger whole, but one which would need more time spent on both sides.
-The score: awkward, repetitive, uninspiring
-The cinematography/direction: Bland, painfully self-aware, pretentious almost?
-The world-building: I am invested in the world, I buy it, but I needed to feel more of it and be further acquainted with it... ambiguity and mystery goes so far, and I can construct it by following the breadcrumbs that are laid, but sometimes I want the gingerbread house to present itself and the director to shove me in his oven so I can bake in the full visualisation of his schemes.
-The ambiguity: nah, you got me. I like the ambiguity... always have done, always will.
-The allegorical/moral purpose: a tad too on the nose and potentially, unlike the world exploration’s vagueness, a bit too forceful and signposted?
All in all however, I am glad to have watched this at long last and I am definitely going to watch Yorgos Lanthimos’ other films to try and gain a further understanding of the undoubted talent he possesses and the broader purpose of his work as a collective. The ending is one of the few things where I disagree with the naysayers as I believe any other conclusion would have been dissatisfying... being left with the question of David’s actions allows us to find not only where our instinctive moral compass points, but furthermore gives us a chance to evaluate the transformation of his character, if indeed we believe he has changed in any way. For all of the bleakness and seriousness of the film, there is something magnetic and impossibly compelling about it, with moments of jet black humour unlike anything I’ve seen before, which I appreciate a lot. Overall though, until I figure out exactly what I make of The Lobster, I’m going to have to leave this one with my seal of approval in terms of the ‘heart’ feature, but with no conclusive score. If anybody fancies chipping in their thoughts feel free, I’m going to need a rewatch or two before I settle on anything here.