Saturday, November 30, 2013
DOGTOOTH (KYNODONTAS) (2009)
Directed By: Girogos Lanthimos
Written By: Giorgos Lanthimos & Efthymis Filippou
Cinematography By: Thimios Bakatakis
Editor: Yorgos Mavropsaridis
Cast: Christos Stergioglou, Michele Valley, Aggeliki Papoulia, Hristos Passalis, MaryTsoni, Anna Kalaitzidou
Three teenagers are confined to an isolated country estate that could very well be on another planet. The trio spend their days listening to endless homemade tapes that teach them a whole new vocabulary. Any word that comes from beyond their family abode is instantly assigned a new meaning. Hence 'the sea' refers to a large armchair and 'zombies' are little yellow flowers. Having invented a brother whom they claim to have ostracized for his disobedience, the über-controlling parents terrorize their offspring into submission. The father is the only family member who can leave the manicured lawns of their self-inflicted exile, earning their keep by managing a nearby factory, while the only outsider allowed on the premises is his colleague Christina, who is paid to relieve the son of his male urges. Tired of these dutiful acts of carnality, Christina disturbs the domestic balance.
While this film has an Interesting premise. I felt like watching the film was monotonous.
I am fairly open minded and can appreciate minutia as long as it goes someplace with interesting characters and subjects to explore. Here there aren't any. The father is despicable and no reason is given for his actions in choosing to subject his children to what he does.
I can see the talent on display. I can also see the ideas at work with something to say and not forcing it with notions or expectations. For me it felt too avant-garde.
Some scenes are jarring with their frankness and don't bat an eye, but by the End I felt perplexed like it was all a waste of time with some allegory going through the film that I am sure I missed.
The title comes from one of the lies that the parents tell the children, that they will only be ready to leave the household when their dogteeth fall out.
The entire film was shot on only one lens: an anamorphic lens with 50mm focal length.
The film felt like it was trying to be pure hearted while reeking of pretension and kinkiness. The reason I might have a problem with the film is that it is I felt a bit of disappointment. The story sounded so revolutionary and so many accolades. I was looking forward to it and as I watched the film. I kept looking for something of interest, but barely found any.
Some scenes are shocking and of a franc sexual nature, but I would not call this a sexual or particularly erotic film.
I would more call it a clinical film as everyone seems clean and planted in here somehow.
You must remember even when doing horrible acts that these children are supposed to be innocent. Though grown physical and In body are naturally curious about the unknown having been sheltered.
It's a dysfunctional family film to the nth degree. I can understand the father wanting to protect his children, but he is ultimately selfish. I kept wondering what are the children supposed to do once the parents die? Because the subject matter was so claustrophobic, the choice was made to set the film in as big and expansive a house as the production could find, complete with swimming pool and enormous garden.
The father trains them like dogs. he also treats them like such. Then is shocked when things begin to go bad. Even the kids have a sense somehow is wrong in the house most of the time. They are unformed innocents. Note that none of the children have names.
The film has plenty of inspiration, spirit and theory surrounding it, but plays too deadpan.
The inspiration for the film came about because of a discussion Giorgos Lanthimos was having with some friends who were about to get married. When Lanthimos expressed doubts about the institution and family itself, he was struck by the idea about what would happen to a man who went to the ultimate extreme of protecting his family.
If i was grading just on originality and singular vision it would get an A maybe I just missed the point. To me for the most part there must be some kind of story. Beginning, middle and end in some fashion. If not it is more an art piece or experiment not a film
In fact like the father i see this more as an experiment of experimental film that is itself about an experiment. I could be mean and call it a film that is an experiment to test an audience patience and also how far it can get on professional merits, accolades and theory.
It is successful at creating a world and landscape in minutiae. It ended up being a world I didn't want to Explore and forced to and still found nothing great about it. Like a wasted vacation, with great classic sights and buildings.
You can also look at this film as improv. Some enjoy it some don't as here you are given information nor reasons for it and asked to fill in between the lines yourself. Which is good when something captivates you. Though when it barely keeps your Interest it is asking for a bit much.
I knew I was looking more For something more artful then entertaining but even in that manner it didn't interest me.