The Lobster Movie Ending Explained
The Lobster is a strange and dark commentary on our society's disdain for single people.
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The Lobster Movie Ending Explained

So I was not a fan of The Lobster. And I get avant-garde, I love weird and different approaches to movie making. I really did think that The Lobster would be a slam dunk for me. But it hit a nerve for me that turned the nightmare factory into overdrive. Like, really really bad dreams. And I think I know why. (Trust me, I’ll get to the ending explanation here soon enough.) I grew up in a Christian home and participated in the evangelical christian sub-culture with all kinds of vim and vigor. All that to say, back in the 80’s there were roaming movie showings of something called The Thief in the Night series… and they were terrible. Terrible in every sense of the word. Here… this should give you a taste of the horror that was the Thief in the Night series. Regardless, watching the Lobster for me was much like watching one of these Christian 80’s rapture terror movies. Very very unsettling.

like really. really unsettling.

But that isn’t why I’m writing this post. I want to basically do an overview on the world of the Lobster, and then dive into the ending and what happened. Because I’m sure there are like a million of you hit the ending and were like, wait,…. wait,…. WHAT?! And I love “Wait, WHAT” endings, even when I hate the movies that contain them. So yeah, it goes without saying that this post is just for people that have already seen the movie. Ok? So here is a trailer to give a bit of separation between you and the spoilers further below. It may actually even entice you to watch the flick? Who knows.

The Lobster World Explained

Before we can get to the ending, I think we need to sort of talk through what the heck is going on in this world. It actually is simple enough. It is a crime, punishable by death (of sorts) to be single. If you were in a relationship, and your spouse dies, or divorces you, you are then sent to a hotel that doubles as a singles detainment center. Think of it like a rehabilitation center. Or maybe a detention center that works to rehabilitate single people.

While there, the single people are forced to participate in coupling exercises of various types. They are also subjected to Public Service Announcements about how terrible it is to be single. You might be raped. You might become depressed and commit suicide. Etc. While at this rehabilitation center they are also sent out to hunt the woods for random single individuals.

Who are these people they are hunting? Simple enough. As we learn when David, (Colin Farrell’s) character decides to make a run for it, the single people that are hunted are escapees that have hidden in the woods. These singles work hard to stay single and remain free. They also are punished quite severely when they do couple up as it is against their mantra and raison d’être. So when David hits it off with Short Sighted Woman (Rachel Weiz’s character) we know that there is some serious repercussions coming.

The Lobster As Social Commentary

Although I hated the movie, I loved the commentary, and what it says about our culture. Single people probably hate the condescension and belittling that all of society lever at them day in and day out. If you are single, you are a failure… right? Maybe society is getting better at not saying that to singles. But I doubt it. (I would love to hear from some of you older singles to hear if maybe it isn’t all that bad? But I don’t think we’ll get many even saying anything as they’d have to open up in order to even comment.)

So as a reminder to quit being a dork to single people, I really appreciated the movie. But the blackness of the comedy scared me physically senseless. Like to my core. No Stephen King book has ever scared me more deeply than this movie. Which brings us to the ending. In this world of singles trying to couple, and couples trying to catch singles, and singles trying to catch attempting couplers…. what was that ending all about?

lobster-ending-explained

The Lobster’s Ending Explained
One of the key details I intentionally skipped over was the idea of the “Identifying Characteristic”. In the movie of the Lobster Identifying Characteristics are used as Nom De Guerres or Nom De Plumes… they are how these singles are known. And it is these characteristics that will get you your eventual significant other. Right? So, if your identifying characteristic is a limp… then please, DEAR LORD, there better be someone else at the hotel checking in with a limp as well. “What about her? She has a limp”, “No, it’s just a sprained ankle, I already checked, it’ll heal.” Which makes quick work of the thickness of these dating sites and our own thickness when we match our single friends up. But you like X-Files… She likes X-files… what happened?

But these identifying characteristics were critical for our leads in that they were critical to their getting together while in singles land in the wood. These two both had Short Sightedness as their identifying characteristic. Which, plays an enormous part in the movie as it progresses. Not just in a spat of Jealousy for David, but also in how David and the Short Sighted woman identify themselves as a couple.

When the leader of the singles decides to take retribution for their relationship she does so in the worst possible way for the two. She takes Short Sighted Woman to go have her eyesight fixed. Right? Which is bad enough. But instead of just fixing her eyesight, which would have been nearly fatal to her relationship with David, she has the optometrist blind her instead. This does two things simultaneously. It ruins her relationship with David. They now have nothing in common. (See, that black comedy again.) And secondly it incapacitates her – which is critical in that her ability to survive the hunt each day will be nearly impossible. (As an aside, did you understand that the singles hunt the renegade singles? And when they are shot, they are shot with a tranquilizer gun, and then they are turned into an animal, right? You understood that was what was happening? I wasn’t 100% sure myself until I read more about the hunt after I finished watching the movie.)

Now we are coming to the pivotal moment – the ending. So the Short Sighted Woman is now The Blind Woman not the Short Sighted Woman. Then we see David (the Short Sighted Man) and The Blind Woman at a restaurant and David says to a waiter walking by, “Can I have a fork and a knife, not a butter knife, a steak knife.” He is trying to decide whether he should gouge out his eyes with a fork, or with a steak knife. Right? Before David goes, The Blind Woman tries to encourage him by saying how much more heightened your other senses will be, etc. And David heads off to the bathroom.

There in the bathroom we see David raise the knife to his eye, and the camera cuts away. And then we see The Blind Woman sitting and waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

Theories About the Ending of The Lobster
So what happens next? With this movie the options are super super simple. So simple in fact that Colin Farrell even spelled all three out for us in an interview this past June with Entertainment Weekly. I’ll let him explain the options, he does a better job with it than I ever would:

EW – “But…does he do it?”

Colin – “Honest to God, part of me thinks he does it. Then part of me thinks that when the camera cuts back to Rachel Weisz, I’m already in a f—ing Uber, heading down the road as fast as I can. And part of me goes to the third option.”

EW – “Which is?”

Colin – “That he doesn’t do it but he goes back to her and tells her that he did. There are so many different options.”

To recap, we have three fairly basic options on the table here.

Option 1. He does it. He gouges out his own eyes for love, and they make a life for themselves among the land of the couples finally. This is your Disneyland fairy tale option. This is the option for all you optimists out there. All you really really twisted optimists out there that is. hahah.

Option 2. He doesn’t do it… he books it as fast as he can as soon as the camera peels away. This is the option for all of us cynics out there, those of us that prize our eyesight above love. We are terribly lonely and cynical people, us Option 2 people.

Option 3. This one? This is the richest and most brilliant of options. Not only does he not do it, but he goes back and tells The Bling Girl that he did do it. That he did gouge out his eyes. He lies to her through her teeth. This is the sickest of all options, but the most clever of all three by a factor.

But which option is it? Which one did he actually do? Well, it sort of depends on your perspective on the world. But I have some pretty good evidence that causes me to think that there was one specific theory that wins out over the other two.

Remember when The Short Sighted Girl first learns she’s been blinded? She realizes what has happened to her… what does she say? She said something to the effect of, “Why did you do it to me? Why not him?” Remember that? I think this shows that this idyllic fairy tale, this wonder happy blissful love is flawed and failing. It reminds me of the relationship David had temporarily with Heartless Woman and how he played himself up as the cruel counterpart to her hostile self. He eventually is called out as a fraud and the relationship dissolves… with great pomp and circumstance.

Also, if it really was love, true love, wouldn’t she have said, you know what, sucks that it was me, but keep your eyesight, our relationship is bigger than the stereotype that society places on top of us and our relationship. Two very different people can be in love, and it doesn’t matter that our identifiable characteristic is no more. But alas, she holds him to it – this social (and screwed up societal conceit) contract that in order to be a couple they have to be the same.

And so I personally believe that David brought the knife to his eye, had a moment of clarity… realized she doesn’t love him anymore than he loves her. That he’d be better off without her, jumps in the nearest Uber and bolts. No? You? What do you think happened at the end? Are you an Option 1 guy? An Option 3 gal? Why? What did you see in this mind job of a movie that I missed with my eyes closed for half of it? Shout out your opinions in the comments.

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85 Responses

  1. Dre

    Im going with option 3.
    Lobsters are blind, and he escapes from the hotel. So, he doesnt want to be a “lobster” (blind).

    Reply
  2. Ed

    I think the possibility that did it but died as a result of his injuries is a strong one.

    Of course the ending is ambiguous and presents numerous possibilities and in so doing causes us to dig deeper into the motivations and attributes of the characters as well as the broader meaning of the film.

    But when visiting the loner leader’s parents he says he would “literally die for her”. And with the other repeated references to death throughout I tend to think that’s what he has tragically done.

    Reply
  3. Monika

    I agree to you… I’m not sure which of the last two options does he choose..but it is sure by what you stated… And the fact that the short sighted lady wanted to get rid of their common trait ‘short sightedness ‘ at the first place…a thing that could have proved fatal for their relationship.., proves that the relationship was already impure, and honestly it’s kinda heartbreaking if the main character falls for someone who’s love for him is impure and selfish and that he gets himself blind, in fact I really was looking forward to an ending where he paired up with the leader of the loners, I really feel on some evidences that she had feelings for him and deserved him better… And probably the reason why she was jealous and why she blinded the lady and not him , atleast she didn’t deserve to be left out to be eaten by dogs, the part where I was totally against David

    Reply
  4. GaryC

    Hi Guys.. i had a random observation of the film during it and all ur comments are brilliant! I dont think anyone has touched on this.. where are the homosexual people in the hotel? Why must they choose one way or another? Why didnt John C. Reilly choose the lady who gave him butter biscuits, their commonality and would have fulfilled him sexually, instead of masturbation? Was he afraid of being homosexual as he seemed happier in male company in the film?

    So in this where were all the homosexuals? If David had admitted his homosexual tendency would he have been changed to an animal unknowingly?

    Similarly does the director allude to this in the Leader of the Loners character.. i detected flirting and attraction with the maid of the hotel, the only affection she portrayed.. she then preferred herself and all others to be single than admit her sexuality and forced this upon those outside of it to do the same.. Possibly a probe at the unacceptance of people in society and the traditional feeling (in Ireland where I am from anyway) that people who are single must be homosexual or odd!!

    Just to add another dimension to the craziness this film has created in this forum!

    Reply
  5. Bahan

    He removes one eye and gives it to her. Voila! now they both have something in common.

    Reply
  6. Anubindu Pramanick

    The Lobster movie was too good and the director and the writer was outstanding to put up even a thought like that. Your review was okay but you missed some points. You only spoke about single people and their despairs. The movie also focuses on how we take for granted the human life. Like at some part, I think the blind girl in the movie says, “now he will know how tough it will be to reach for parts in his body that he could while he was a human.”
    The writer also shows us the possibility of this “dystopian” world in the future and it also shows some similarity in the present world and its drawbacks. Like at present we have hunger issues due to a finite amount of food and water, health issues, overpopulation, nuclear war, global warming etc. I know it is too far fetched, but for a moment, THINK. Is it really that impossible? That 100 or even years from now on?
    The writer did not ever mention what was the reason for this absurd condition in the world and left us to our imagination. My point is was far too thoughtfully made movie to only talk about the despair of single people.
    In the distant future, when food becomes too less and population becomes uncontrollable, the society will take drastic steps. And maybe we wont be much different than this dystopian world portrayed in the film

    Reply
    • L

      The Lobster is strangely listed as a “Comedy” although had a movie genre existed called, “Absurdity,” it would have found its niche. Often life is called absurd.

      Reply
  7. elkarreneskutik

    I really liked the movie and I liked it even more after reading all your theories!! And although I am not going to solve the mystery since I can’t come up with more possibilities I would like to mention two points I see missing in this page:

    1) As GaryC mentions, I would like to hear the different theories about why bisexuality is forbidden in the hotel. If I am not wrong it was said that they had had some trouble and therefore the option was removed. I thought it might be related to the leader of the Loners even though I can’t really provide any reasoning to that. I just simply think it was not emphasized at the beginning with no purpose; not in this movie at least.

    2) What about the couple with bleeding noses? We have an open ending there too: she is left with a knife on her hand (as the main character at the end), a kid (the daughter) saying “kill him, mommy” and yet she does not move. Is this true love (she will love him regardless of not having a running nose) or will she kill him?

    Loved reading you all

    Reply
  8. Matt Madeira

    I personally feel that of the 3 options cited here, option 3 is the only one I’m in favor of. Option 1 is par for the course, hence yawn. Option 2 is flat out lame. But Option 3 offers a break from the mold in that David decides that he loves short sighted woman regardless of the premise of the film, which is that it’s mandatory to have something ridiculous in common. Option 3 also has many different options of its own, does David tell her he did it, does he lie and say he does, but doesn’t? Just the fact that they would even discuss that they should be blind together to “fit in”, says to me that they are in love. Therefore, they could rationalize that and move forward as couple that once had something superficial in common. I could live with all three options, but find option 3 to be the most interesting.

    Option 4 would be that he comes back to the table with tissues over his face telling her he did it. Then he swats a fly or some kind of tell like that, subtlety suggesting to the viewer that he can still see with the eye that would’ve been hidden from the cameras vantage.

    Anyone who took the time to write anything on this site likes the film, whether they like to like it, or like to hate it

    Reply
  9. Ove Nyström

    When the waiter comes she looks straight at him. She also looks out the window… My theory is that he blinds himself for her but she is faking it. 🙂

    Reply
  10. Jordan_Peterson

    Thank you so much for this great review/analysis. I came to understand the opening scene, but am leaving with a much better understanding of the film and especially the ending.

    Here are my two bitcoin cents:

    He definitely did NOT blind himself and he definitely LIES to her about it for the rest of their time together – which might in fact not be long.

    Decided for yourself: here are the clues.

    1. Limpo fakes the nosebleeds to make his relationship work. The movie gives us every reason to think the approach works, since there is every indication the couple was on their way through the final test on the yacht.

    2. The evil Loner Leader’s goal is to destroy/test relationships by exposing their weaknesses: the old hotel guy’s selfishness, Limpo’s lie, the non-lethal punishments for flirting.

    3. He asks to take on the yacht mission where it cements for him the idea that maybe the lie can work – since after all no one reacted how he probably expected. Nosebleed girl didn’t turn on Limpo. In fact, it kind of exposed how Limpo was so afraid that being exposed would end the relationship but it did not.

    4. The child took a STEAK KNIFE and wanted mom to kill David.

    5. The Kiwi – David already lies to her, the way she lied to him about the haircut when they first got together after the blinding.

    There is also the childishness of the views shared by the singles who stay single – that an external commonality is required for a relationship (hair, limp, lisp). Or be anal-milktoast out of desperation. Or how it is SO significant to David that his wife left him for another man who wears glasses (established at beginning of movie).

    Why did David’s wife leave him? It wasn’t about the glasses – there was something David was or wasn’t doing, some fatal flaw, which ruined the marriage. He never properly grieved and moved on, although he cried when he saw his dead brother.

    The change he had to make was he had to stop fixating on the trivial (like the waterproof ponchos on the captured loners) but also stop short of refusing to accept anything less than 100% Pure Truth like the evil Loner-Leader. Her punishment was perfect for them: if she had blinded him, it would not have been a test of his character of course he would still love Short-Sighted-Girl (SSG). This way, in order to continue to love SSG, he would HAVE TO blind himself so they still shared that commonality (which is brilliant of itself they are both shortsighted and fixated on the wrong things). UNLESS he was willing to change his shallow, dogmatic view and accept the sacrafice he would have to make day in and day out to MAKE THE RELATIONSHIP WORK.

    SO F*ING BRILLIANT.

    P.S. This movie is a masterpiece for people who are familiar with the work of Jordan B. Peterson – it so vividly captures this dilemma of our cultural view of modern relationships as well as aspects of fascism of the state AND the fascism of the anti-state (for lack of better term). The nihilism, the revenge against being itself, the archetypes – it is WOW.

    Reply
  11. Ashley

    Just watched the movie. Totally think he DIDN’T do it. The moment she mentioned that he should be blind instead of her, I knew it was going downhill from there.

    Also, tried to rack my brain on the blood type question. Which I was speaking to my husband about, because he asks a lot of questions in that scene.

    He’s still trying to find something for them to have in common.!

    But I’m pissed she WANTED him to be blind. The blind leading the blind can be used literally here. It’s the worse, she’s the worse.

    I hope he just lied to her and lets the relationship teeter on until it’s finally over. Or he leads her in front a bus.

    Reply
  12. Ben

    I’m almost fully convinced that she could see by the end of the movie. Her behavior in that last scene suggests it might be so. Otherwise that end scene was kind of drawn out and pointless.

    Reply
  13. Ed

    Nice idea, but unfortunately totally at odds with both his character and the whole world of this movie as a whole.

    Reply
  14. Ed

    His wife left him for another man.

    The first line of the film is David saying “Does he wear glasses or contact lenses?”. Once you see the rest of it you understand the context – David and his wife had short-sightedness in common and therefore he knows or assumes that her lover must be myopic too.

    Reply
  15. Vendelis

    Thats exactly what i thought when he asked what is her blood type

    Reply
  16. Ross

    Brilliant! This is what I thought too. Being a high brow art movie, it allows the audience to come to their own conclusions. But, when he asked her blood type that was something that kept me wondering. Obviously, the city has advanced technology if they can turn people into animals. So, he cut out one of his eyes to give to her. There are so many other less bloody ways to blind oneself… Acid, rubbing alcohol, etc… A steak knife implies he cuts out one of his eyes to give to her. Obviously, the hero of the story transcends the social norms and he does what he knows is right throughout the movie.

    Reply
  17. L

    Taylor, you’ve given brilliant perception to another facet the Lobster movie seems to present perhaps by accident more than intent the creators of this movie had in mind.

    Reply
  18. Angel Miller

    So, there’s the sound of the ocean at the end and the movie is called The Lobster. To me, those are pretty big clues as to what becomes of him.

    Reply
  19. Gillian

    Greg, I think you make a good argument for he-did-it, and your points about sacrifice and blindness in relationships are right on as well. Then Al Bundy, a couple of comments later, notes the sound of the sea that puts the last word on the ending and that is definitely a strong suggestion in a movie where everything can be taken as metaphor. Maybe we choose to see the ending that matches our take on relationships. I think all the possibilities are pretty horrible and I just can’t commit to one. Ha.

    Reply
  20. Gillian

    I like that, Chris — it does make sense that there *isn’t* a definite ending, that it’s purposely ambiguous not to be coy, but to inspire a stronger connection to the movie and questions and discussion about the possibilities. No wonder I couldn’t pick one. 😉

    Reply

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