Plot – Three teenagers live isolated, without leaving their house, because their over-protective parents say they can only leave when their dogtooth falls out – Dogtooth.
Director – Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring – Christos Stergioglou, Michele Valley, Angeliki Papoulia, Hristos Passalis, Mary Tsoni
Released – 2010
If you liked: Parasite, Room, Hard Candy
Dogtooth was a film I’d heard a great deal about, English-speaking reviewers highly praised it, earning near-universal praise along with a nomination for Best Foreign Language at the Oscars. But for me, this is another in a long line of art-house foreign language films that was overhyped and elevated purely because it came from a film system other than Hollywood and wasn’t filmed in English.
This isn’t a movie for general consumption, but rather an art-house piece that hoped to find success with the big-name film critics and those among the Film Twitter community that see their tastes as more refined than the wider going cinema-going audience.
There are good ideas behind Dogtooth‘s plot, but to me, these were executed in a clumsy manner and that made the viewing experience feel stilted and bland. This isn’t to say I didn’t like the basic premise of a father keeping his family locked away in a remote compound in an attempt to keep them safe from the outside world, with this control slowly unravelling and having to resort to more desperate acts of psychological control as the children grow older and start developing both physically and mentally.
Questioning their surroundings and needing their sexual desires to be met. However, I couldn’t help but feel this was a movie with no payoff. Building up towards something that sadly never came and although not perfect.
It’s clear to see that director Yorgos Lanthimos enjoys the natural approach to filmmaking, employing an almost retro 50s style throughout, which was one of the aspects of the film that I found worked, not only does it let the scenes play out naturally, but this simple approach also makes the violence and the sex more shocking or clinical.
This direction does a great job of producing a cold feel and keeping the audience at arm’s length, highlighting just how strange both the situation and the characters are. This leads me to the acting, which for the most part is strong throughout. The most stand out from the performances belonging to Stergioglou, who excels as the manipulative father.
Clearly not for everyone (especially cat lovers) Dogtooth is an unforgettable movie that gets increasingly darker both sexually and psychologically as the film progresses. Disturbing but ultimately unfulfilling watch. Overall, I feel the themes have been covered better elsewhere, including M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village.