My first introduction to the Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos was with The Lobster, released in 2015, a dark comedy that pushes the social normalcy and experiments with the human pathos. Seeing that Dogtooth released in 2009 and was up on Filmstruck, it was a no-brainer for me to watch this before jumping in on The Killing of a Sacred Deer. The film being all in Greek is not the only thing that made this film stand out amongst his later work…
Someone told me this was Lanthimos’s most accessible film. Hahahahaha!
Like this film, that person played a sick twisted joke on me, leaving me thinking, “Wow! This director actually toned it down after his first film.” After watching The Lobster, I was ready to delve into more of his work, little did I know Dogtooth is the most fucked up film I have watched since Fat Girl. I can’t even call this a comedy; it’s just a social experiment to test how long a person can watch this film without turning it off or pausing to vomit. The premise is basically: “what if homeschooling went down the darkest path possible?” The film attempts to present that premise in such a way that the events are plausible in real life. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate the theme he was going for, and the film–like most of his other work–is a social experiment that makes the viewer question things we take for granted.
I do give Lanthimos credit for the way the film is shot. The film perfectly displays a foreign country in the 80s.
Dogtooth raises the question of if our human nature can be tamed. As the film progresses, you watch these three adult children–who have been brainwashed by their parents–awaken their inner human nature and begin to question their upbringing. Some of the most enjoyable moments of the film are when the eldest of the three siblings watch some American classics and begins imitating them. She quotes iconic lines to display her discomfort or affection. It shows that no matter how hard you try to protect your kid from the outside world, they will eventually break away.
Furthermore, violence and lust are not romanticized in this film but served on a cold dish and garnished with dark humor. Luckily, I washed the taste out of my mouth, but I am surprised this was Lanthimos’s big break. I think it is appropriate to say that Dogtooth is not my fetish, but hopefully, I will like The Killing of a Sacred Deer as much as I adored The Lobster. But right now, Lanthimos is 1-for-2 with me
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