CANNES, France (Reuters) - In the warped world of Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos's "Lobster", society has decreed that single people or those who have lost their mates must find someone during a hotel "dating game" or be turned into an animal of their choice.
The film, in competition at the Cannes film festival where it was shown on Friday, features a somewhat bloated-looking Colin Farrell as an architect whose wife has left him.
He decides upon arrival at the luxury hotel, which is actually in southwest Ireland, that if he fails to find a mate within the 45-day deadline he will become a lobster because it lives 100 years and has blue, as in royal, blood.
The hotel manager applauds him on his choice because most people choose to become dogs.
A critique of the straitjacket of social convention? The director would not be drawn on the film's meaning and the lead actors seemed unsure as to what it was all about.
"We really just want to ask the questions and make people consider how we organise our ways of life and, you know, if all the rules that we follow make sense, should we rebel against some, should we make new ones, all these kinds of questions," Lanthimos said.
One of his previous films, "Dogtooth", was about a mother and father who brought up their children to adulthood without letting them see the world beyond the walls of their compound.
Farrell, who said he was thrilled the film was made in his native Ireland, added: "I have no clue what it's about except a sense of the deep loneliness that permeates (modern life)."
British actress Rachel Weisz, who plays the woman Farrell's character eventually links up with, though in circumstances far removed from the hotel dating game, said she felt the film was deeply romantic despite its absurdist trappings.
American actor John Reilly, another of the hotel "guests", said he had loved the script precisely because it was absurd.
Initial critical reaction was mostly positive, although Britain's Guardian said the film had started out with great promise but "gets fishy near the tail end".
Editing by Robin Pomeroy