“That’s the problem with kids today. They know too much,” laments Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), a paunchy, over-the-hill enforcer. When we meet Healy, he’s on the job, tracking the activities of a thirteen year-old girl at the request of her parents. In exchange for their money, Healy sends a brass-knuckled message to the man taking advantage of her: stay away. He is professional and efficient. His only real companions are the fish he keeps in his apartment.
The protagonist of The Lobster is named David. Most of the other characters have no name. They are instead identified by physical characteristics; examples include The Limping Man and The Lisping Man. These people are stilted and nearly joyless. They are sent to a hotel for forty-five days during which they must fall in love with a mate. If they fail, they will be turned into an animal. David’s animal of choice is the lobster because, as he explains to the hotel manager, “I’ve always loved to swim.” David’s brother accompanies him in the form of a dog—an omen.