Saturday, April 25, 2015
Indie Review: Dogtooth (2010)
'Dogtooth's' Bite Far Exceeds Its Bark
Plenty of us watch movies for perspective, to have an epiphany of some kind if we think our lives are terrible. This might be another one of those kind of films as while you watch it, you might think to yourself "Huh, and I thought my family was messed up."
Dogtooth follows the story of a man (Christos Stergioglou) and his wife (Michelle Valley) who keep their children hidden from the outside world. They teach them existing vocabulary words but give them new meanings, have them engage in unorthodox competitions to win prizes, and the only outsider allowed on their premises is a woman named Cristina who is always assigned to satisfy the som's sexual urges. The only way that the children are allowed to leave their home is when their dogtooth falls out.
First off, I thought it was very interesting that even though there is a plot, there isn't necessarily a story per se. It is mainly a character study about the different family members and focuses on what goes on in their world with the parents literally treating their children like dogs and even telling them the most dangerous predator is a cat.
Next, I'll discuss the performances. Christos Stergioglou is very enigmatic yet unsettling as the father whose methods of conditioning his kids slowly take a toll on them. The actors playing the conditioned children are also outstanding. Aggeliki Paupolia is a quiet force of nature as the oldest daughter who has the predatorial and sensual tendencies that her fellow family members have yet is yearning to pass into adulthood. Christos Passalis portrays quite a grey character as he acts as the film's bright spot through his gleaming smile yet still shares the same animalistic characteristics as his family. Even though Michelle Valley is given a smaller role as the wive, through the use of her facial expressions, she still undergoes a powerful yet silent dramatic arc. The other two actresses, Mary Tsoni as the young daughter, and Anna Kalatzidou as the son's suitor Cristina, are also astounding as well.
Lastly, I'll get into the direction and writing by Yorgos Lanthimos. I thought it was incredibly fascinating how, through the use of the film's limited setting, Lanthimos manages to construct plenty of layers through his storytelling. For example, the way the children are taught at home makes the film seem like a satire on homeschooling and the methods in which the father conditions his children make the film also seem like a demonstration of dominance and of the animal inside of us.
Overall, Dogtooth is an unsettling yet masterful look at the fierce animal inside us all that offers interesting layers in its storytelling and should for sure make writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos a talent to be on the lookout for.
Would I Recommend It?:
Yes, but to those that love to study film. This is a well-crafted film, but it is not for everybody as it pretty graphic with scenes of explicit sex and a few scenes of violence.