Dogtooth (Kynodontas) (2009)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5.  Greece, 2009.  Boo Productions, Greek Film Center, Horsefly Productions.  Screenplay by , Yorgos Lanthimos.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by Elli Papageorgakopoulou.  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 2010.  Toronto International Film Festival 2009.  

You think your parents are overprotective, and then you meet these people. A wealthy Greek industrialist has kept his family sheltered from the outside world by convincing his son and two daughters that everything that lies outside the border of their property is evil and dangerous. As a result, the three are now adults who have absolutely no connection with society or culture:  their ideas of sexuality are totally opposite from what a viewer would consider regular, and their understanding of the value of material objects is askew. Their father asks them if they want to listen to “grandpa” and puts on a Frank Sinatra record; their complete ignorance of the reality of the situation makes for a frightful but strangely hilarious sight. It isn’t until the elder daughter sees, of all things, an adult film that she understands that there’s a world outside her home that she might want to explore. Director Giorgos Lanthimos elicits exceptional, committed performances from the actors and employs terrific camera work to tell a very affecting story.  There’s a lot of skill and precision behind every move made by this director who takes a hypothetical issue (parents trying to make a better life for their kids than they themselves ever had) and pushes it to a satirical extreme.  There is also an unpleasant nature to this film that cannot be circumvented:  Lanthimos uses a lot of humour to tell his story, but it’s a smug, pretentious humour, not the kind of maniacal, anti-establishment glee that Bunuel would have taken to the subject matter, and as a result the film seems to be more interested in being provocative than enlightening.

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