A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Lobster -- which stars Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz -- is a strange, futuristic dystopian drama with elements of dark comedy. It's very much aimed at adults: It has several very gory moments and shocking, sudden violence, as well as the threat/suggestion of violence. People hunt each other, a suicide attempt ends in a bloody mess, animals are killed, people are beaten, stabbed, and much more. Sexual content is also strong, with graphic sex scenes (although there's no sensitive nudity) and explicit dialogue about sex. On the other hand, substance use is limited to social drinking by adults, and swearing is infrequent, with only one "f--k." Some teens may be curious about this one, but it's extremely mature.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In a strange, dystopian future, single adults are allowed only 45 days to find a suitable life mate. If their search ends in failure, people are turned into animals. When an architect's wife leaves him for another man, the architect, David (Colin Farrell), is forced to check into a sinister "hotel," where his progress in finding a new partner is monitored. He meets some other men (John C. Reilly and Ben Whishaw) and makes an attempt to partner with a chilly, unfeeling woman (Angeliki Papoulia) before escaping into the woods. There, David finds the Loners. Their fierce leader (Lea Seydoux) takes him in, under the condition that there's no flirting or coupling with any other loners. Trouble arises when David finds his perfect match (Rachel Weisz).
Is it any good?
Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos may have positioned himself among the world's great, provocative "maverick" filmmakers with this bizarre yet fascinating dystopian nightmare for grown-ups. Against all odds, Lanthimos actually received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film for 2009's Dogtooth, and he now ventures into English and enlists Hollywood stars -- who are more like playthings here than performers -- with THE LOBSTER.
Lanthimos' palette is bleak, his pace is slow, and his characters all speak in unsettlingly measured, robotic tones, as if afraid to accidentally express any genuine emotion. Sudden bursts of sex and violence -- beginning with the startling opening shot -- and a clinical acceptance of disturbing imagery indicate a kind of brutal fearlessness in Lanthimos. But unlike other mavericks (Lars von Trier, Michael Haneke, or Catherine Breillat, for example), he seems to have a dark, brittle sense of humor; it's possible to view this movie as a pitch-black comedy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Lobster's gory violence. What's the effect of the sudden moments of violence? How does it compare to more sustained action violence in other movies? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
How is the movie's sexual content handled? What role does it play in the characters' relationships? How much sexual content in media is appropriate for kids?
In this dystopian future, who gets to decide what the rules are? Are they unfair? Can they be changed? Are there any situations in real life that mirror the one in the movie?
Why is so much emphasis placed on couplehood in this movie? Is there anything wrong with being single?
Why do you think the main character chooses a lobster for his animal? Does it seem like a good choice? What animal would you choose?
- In theaters: May 13, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: August 2, 2016
- Cast: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Lea Seydoux
- Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
- Studio: A24
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sexual content including dialogue, and some violence
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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