Indie Flick Review: Dogtooth
Quiet Brutal Beauty Under the Mediterranean Sun
Rating: 5 out of 5
This arthouse flick from Greek director, Yorgos Lanthimosis, is brilliant. It is everything I want in a movie: interesting characters, suspenseful plot, thought provoking story, striking imagery, and WEIRD.
We are introduced to a family living in a seemingly idyllic home: beautiful, manicured lawns with a swimming pool and gardens, soft, floaty white curtains and clean lines, sunlight filtering in through windows, and a peaceful silence like a lazy summer day, when everything is just a whisper.
The father is a gruff appearing man buttoned up in business shirts and suits. The mother is a Stepford wife with perfectly coiffed hair, modest housewifey dresses, and sexy lingerie when the time calls. Her personality is the muted one out of the whole cast of characters, the least developed, with the least amount of screen time. This makes her all the more intriguing to me, as I wonder what she is thinking as the bystander in this intense drama.
Then there are the three teenage kids, one boy and two girls. The girls are close and intimate with each other. They have matching haircuts. The boy is not as close with the girls. He is often shown with distance from the two.
From the beginning, there is an eerie incandescent light cast about the life of this family. One of the opening scenes shows the three kids having a competition of who can last the longest with their finger under a running tap of hot water. Is this a game? If so, it doesn’t seem very fun. Why are they playing? So many questions…
Soon, the viewer becomes privy to more of their strange life. A defining scene shows the family sitting around the dinner table, sharing a meal. As they have a discussion amongst themselves, we see that common words carry totally different meanings in this family, as in not even in the same ballpark. The plot thickens …
It seems the father is the only one who leaves the household as it becomes increasingly evident that the parents have created a false world for their children to live in. Up is down and left is right and perception is manipulated to offer a sense of security, safety, and utopia that can only be found within the confines of their home.
A female security guard from where the father works is the only person outside the family we see in the house. She has an interesting arrangement with the family, specifically the son.
The sphere of influence of this outsider culminates one day when she has a serendipitous encounter with the eldest girl that opens the door to a loss of innocence and subsequent curiosity and yearning of adolescence to break free from parental advisory, into the world.
She is a prime example of the discovery of youth, breaking norms and barriers, transcending beyond the scope of her parents’ ability to tamper with the development of nature.
As we witness the shattering of a reality, a tumbling cascade of events builds into a tense, absurd, disturbing, and beautiful climax that cinches up this uncomfortable snapshot of a strange family dynamic. The ending, however, is wonderfully incomplete and leaves you breathless with hope, anticipation, shock (or wonder), and a sense of reeling from a truly unique storyline.
This movie is perfectly suspenseful and unhurried, without being slow. It relies on beautiful storytelling and measured scenes where every little part is deliberate and purposeful. Each interaction between characters is a window into their relationship or further recreation of the story.
I give this movie a 5 out of 5 star rating for its cadence in unveiling the story, quietly stunning cinematography, and brutal beauty of its characters and the world they live in.
Watch it on Kanopy.com