Dogtooth

Review by Laurence Boyce @LaurenceBoyce

Directed by

Yorgos Lanthimos

Starring

Angeliki Papoulia Christos Stergioglou Michele Valley

Anticipation.

An exemplary showing on the festival circuit means that this Greek film has been talked up by many.

Enjoyment.

This is not easy viewing even despite the vein of dark humour that runs alongside the more disturbing elements. But there is something hypnotically compelling about the film.

In Retrospect.

A stunning experience that will leave you shaking afterwards.

Dogtooth is a film that delights in disconcerting the viewer and refuses to supply any easy answers.

If there’s one thing that mainstream cinema demands, it’s an explanation. Character motivation and plot are continually hammered home until the audience understands what’s going on and – more importantly – why. It is the refusal to play this game that makes Dogtooth feel so devastating, unique and fresh. With echoes of David Lynch, Michael Haneke and even Stanley Kubrick, Yorgos Lanthimos eschews the fantastical to present a world in which horror is grounded in mundanity.

A mother and father decide to shelter their family of three children from the outside world by convincing them that everything beyond their secluded compound will destroy them. Thus, stray cats are in fact evil creatures capable of killing in an instant, and aeroplanes are nothing more than toys moving overhead.

With their own language and customs, and knowing no other rules apart from the ones placed upon them by their father, the children are far removed from the (so-called) norms of society. Yet as the elder son enters late adolescence, the father decides to risk bringing an outsider into the fold to allow the young man to satisfy his sexual needs. But this promises to bring their world crashing down.

Lanthimos creates an atmosphere that juxtaposes the alien with the horribly familiar. Our protagonists (and the refusal to name them only adds to the sense of alienation that permeates the film) inhabit a sun-drenched idyll that contains all the trappings of a successful middle-class life. When their dysfunctional nature comes to the fore it’s with a sense of terrible logic, as the director evokes the dark comedy hidden within unsettling scenes and events.

The performances are superb, especially from Christos Stergioglou as the anonymous patriarch whose reasons for shutting his family away remain tantalisingly unsaid. Indeed, Dogtooth is a film that delights in disconcerting the viewer and refuses to supply any easy answers (in fact, any answers at all). But it never feels like an exercise in audience-baiting; rather it is a sharp and alarming indictment of modern society.

Published 23 Apr 2010

Anticipation.

An exemplary showing on the festival circuit means that this Greek film has been talked up by many.

Enjoyment.

This is not easy viewing even despite the vein of dark humour that runs alongside the more disturbing elements. But there is something hypnotically compelling about the film.

In Retrospect.

A stunning experience that will leave you shaking afterwards.

Read More

The Wolfpack

By Adam Woodward

The kids are kind of alright in this intriguing real life tale of cinematically-inclined trap-ins.

review

The Lobster

By Trevor Johnston

Director Yorgos Lanthimos proves he’s still got plenty left up his sleeve with this dark dystopic satire.

review

Room video review

By Clarisse Loughrey

TDMS! hits the BFI London Film Festival and finds sweetness and horror in this Brie Larson-starring drama.

What are you looking for?

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, LWLies has been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.

Editorial

Design