June 21, 2015


Yorgos Lanthimos, 2009
How refreshing it is to see a film made by a filmmaker who clearly has a unusual vision, seems to execute it the way that he wants without censoring himself or showing any restraint. Dogtooth is a film that appears to not be under any scrutiny by focus groups. It's completely bizarre, troubling at times, but completely intriguing. It even manages to inject some black comedy here and there. That particular technique seems to be more common with European cinema, where there is less of an emphasis on how a film is marketed.

Playing with themes of control and isolation, Lanthimos is able to construct this white-backed setting that to any casual observer would look like a rather pleasant place to grow up. But that would be to someone who grew up in regular society, with friends, normal parents who knew that there would be some questionable elements that your children would face. You wonder at times, why is the father so dead-set on keeping his children separated from the rest of the world. Obviously he doesn't want to expose them to the negative elements that are out there. Paranoid projections, past trauma causing unrealistic assumptions. Dogtooth is a philosophical film in a sense. Clearly what the mother and father are doing is completely wrong, certainly deserving of legal punishment. But what about when the children are well-fed, well taken care of? It brings up a lot of moral issues. But the lack of socialization, free-will, freedom of choice is undoubtedly damaging. That's probably the bottom line. That it's not up to your parents to create your world. You reach an age where it's your mortal right to flee the coop, to see whats out there. In a biological sense. And the children don't get any of these freedoms. Instead, they think that fish can appear in swimming pools and that cats are evil blood-thirsty creatures. Because of this, the parents are not much different than the real-life figures that we see on the news from time to time after a dungeon is uncovered after the imprisoned escape or someone discovers the whole thing. The mother and father are creating people who have inner cores of benevolence but are completely unprepared for the outside world. Lanthimos is able to skillfully create this little world that has you completely entranced, as disturbing as it is at times you can't look away. There's so much invention and artistic originality with Dogtooth. There's no other films like it. Even though you don't spend a lot of time in this fortified property, it's going to be in your brain forever after 90 minutes of being there.

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