This Week's Script Cavalcade: The Lobster

How’s this for an opening sequence?

It’s a befuddling tableau to start with, to say the least. But encapsulates and establishes a tone for the rest of the picture tidily.

Come and scuttle across the floors of silent seas with Yorgos Lanthimos' 2015 dystopian tragicomedy The Lobster. As far as concepts go, you’ll find none more bizarre and original than this absurdist arc. The long and short of it: Eligible singles are relocated to a lavish estate and given approximately 45 days to attract a romantic companion otherwise risk being transmogrified into an animal of their own choosing. It’s so out there, this idea. It’s science-fiction at its most scathing and socially penetrating. It’s a screenplay that bamboozles expectations and askews and eschews all notions of a traditional romantic comedy.

We’re introduced to lovelorn David. A world-class schlub who’s wife just absconded with another man damning David to this heart-wrenching race against the clock to find a new spouse. He’s deposited into his new bachelor lifestyle and now must keep in the company of a cadre of other equally romantically ill-equipped galoots who are also scrambling to avoid becoming part of a mopey menagerie.

It’s all a very trenchant satire on modern day dating and the incumbent anxieties and inanities that are part and parcel with the farce. The singles are bombarded daily by straight-faced propaganda about the ins and outs of successful courtship and couplehood. They are diligently daffy and delivered with the stoicism of an afterschool PSA. It very cannily mirrors the torrent of subtle inveigling we receive via images plastered on billboards and magazines everywhere reinforcing one point: You are not good enough and there is no place in society for sole individuals.

It only gets more preposterous. Singles can stay their inevitable animal-transformation by brandishing tranquilizer rifles and embarking on group hunts of the free-range escapee singles that inhabit the surrounding woods. Every renegade single captured buys them another day of humanhood. It ravenously pits singles against singles and suddenly it’s Darwinism at its most reprehensible.

David develops something like a niggling conscience. David manages to orchestrate an escape to the woods to join this lonely unit of hunted and finds himself experiencing the diametrically-opposite lifestyle. The loners in the woods, contrary to his previous predicament, are forbidden to pair off and indulge in romance. The pendulum swings far off into the other extreme as the ostracized denizens of the forest resolve to live out the rest of their lives in self-imposed exile and independence. It’s a grotesque commentary on the emotionally wounded who renounce romance knee-jerkedly and drag this burden of misplaced pride around their necks like an albatross.

Both the population living in the estate and in the woods live lives most foolhardy and of folly. A burlesque of senselessness. It’s acutely insightful when it comes to parsing out the travesty that is modern day dating and the societal conventions and seemingly arbitrary social construct of relationships.

It’s such an inscrutable script. But there’s also a weird wisdom that can be winnowed within its pages. An invitation to see past the unhealthy fixation on marriage and reverence for romance that can be hobbling to the wellbeing. It’s part parable and part surrealist theatre.

So stop by the library and awkwardly shuffle up to someone and ask if that seat’s taken. You can read this Best Original Screenplay nominee together and maybe, just maybe, uncover connections the old fashioned way sans tranquilizer darts.

And for the second, third, and umpteenth date you can read these other scripts together too. Just in and primed for perusal.

  • Taylor Sheridan’s slow-burn crime drama Wind River.
  • 2008’s comedy-drama Sunshine Cleaning written by Megan Holley about two ne’er-do-well sisters starting a bio-hazardous disposal business.
  • Every episode of season one of Starz’s The Girlfriend Experience created by Lodge Kerrigan.

Have a click and a carom ‘round our catalog too, won’t you.

Scuttle, scuttle.