Quickcard Review Dogtooth (Kynodontas)
Directed by: Giorgos Lanthimos Cast: Aggeliki Papoulia, Mary Tsoni, Hristos Passalis Running Time: 1 hr 30 min Rating: Unrated Release Date: March 14, 2011
PLOT: Parents keep their adult children cloistered in their compound in the middle of nowhere. The kids have never been outside of the house and backyard. They only interact with their parents, one another, and one outsider.
WHO'S IT FOR? Fans of unusual and perverse foreign films reminiscent of Lars von Trier and Michael Haneke.
Dogtooth mines the creepy territory that I usually associate with Appalachia. This Greek film (which was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar this year) tells the story of three twentysomethings, a man and two women, who live cloistered in their parents house. They've never left it in all their lives and get all their knowledge of the world from their parents. The parents are sadists though, they teach them the wrong meanings for words, abuse them physically and terrorize them emotionally with made up dangers, such as convincing the kids that house cats are the most dangerous creatures on Earth. The world they've created for themselves is bizarre, but also makes a weird sort of sense under the circumstances.
The movie covers the development of the characters, especially the unnamed eldest daughter (Papoulia). Out of all her siblings, she seems to have the greatest curiosity about the outside world. She keeps testing the limits of the world her parents have developed and getting herself in trouble. Watching the film, I kept wanting her to push further, get out and tell someone about what her father did. Because the worst part of watching this film was knowing the kids didn't know that what their parents did was wrong. The father uses the rationale that he's doing this to keep his children safe, but really his reasoning is unclear.
Visually, Lanthimos has chosen a washed out palette reminiscent of '70s film, like Badlands but without the sweeping vistas. There aren't a lot of vibrant colors, it gives the impression that the film is set in the '70s or '80s though it's hard to tell. The family is so locked in their own world they could be in any time period.
In the end, there aren't really any answers. Why these parents are willing to do so much to keep their children under their complete control is unclear. How no one else seems to know about these lost adult children is also a mystery. The journey's pretty interesting though.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10