Monthly Archives: October 2017

Film Review: The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

Film Review: The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

The films of director Yorgos Lanthimos, sometimes called a member of the Greek Weird Wave, are very much an acquired taste. I had my own baptism by film watching his Dogtooth (2009) and warmed to him with The Lobster (2015).

His latest, The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, is a gripping tale that is equal parts Greek tragedy and horror. Given the film’s title, I do not think it is a spoiler to mention that major elements of the plot are derived from Euripedes’ Iphigenia In Aulis. Its carefully sustained buildup and intensity of tone may remind some viewers of films by Roman Polanski.

Cincinnati cardiologist Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) seems to have a perfect life. He and his wife Anna (Nicole Kidman), an ophthalmologist, have two precocious children and a luxurious home. Lanthimos never hints anything might be amiss, the surest way of cluing audiences to fasten their seatbelts.

Steven has periodic meetings with a teenager named Martin (Barry Keoghan) that might be dismissed as innocuous if the two did not take them so seriously. He buys gifts for Martin, like an expensive watch. When Martin turns up at the hospital unannounced, Steven introduces him to colleagues as a friend of his daughter.

Eventually, Martin wrangles a dinner invitation at Steven’s house. He ingratiates himself with Steven’s family, particularly Steven’s teenage daughter Kim (Raffey Cassidy). Martin also strong-arms Steven into having dinner at his house. The intent appears to be pairing Steven with Martin’s randy mother (Alicia Silverstone). One of the few genuinely funny moments in this film is Silverstone hollering, “You’re not leaving until you try my tart!”

When Steven’s son Bob (Sunny Suljic) falls victim to a strange neurological malady, Martin is the only one who is not shocked. Martin coolly reminds Steven that his father died after Steven operated on him. Bob’s illness is a form of retribution for Steven’s crime. Steven’s punishment is that he must take the life of one of his family members. If he does not, all of them will die.

What is even more chilling than this directive is Steven’s continued refusal to accept culpability for this situation.

Farrell and Kidman are predictably great here, but the breakout performance is Barry Keoghan’s. He is probably most familiar to filmgoers as George in Dunkirk-a completely different role. His Martin is a study in twisted logic, similar to Robert Walker’s Bruno Antony in Hitchcock’s Strangers On A Train.

Several people behind the camera have worked with Lanthimos on other projects. Efthymis Filippou co-wrote the script, as he did on Dogtooth, Alps, and The Lobster. Editor Yorgos Mavropsaridis and cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis both worked on Dogtooth and The Lobster. Their work, along with that of music editor/supervising sound editor Johnnie Burn, helps to convey the sense of a nightmare in progress.

Theme: Inspired By Greek Literature

Related Posts: Film Appreciation: O Brother, Where Art Thou?  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-appreciation-o-brother-where-art-thou/

Inspired By Greek Literature: List For Week Ending October 29, 2017  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/inspired-by-greek-literature-list-for-week-ending-october-29-2017/

Film Appreciation: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Film Appreciation: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is one whale of an entertaining film. It has an infectious musical score by T. Bone Burnett, terrific comic performances, and snappy dialogue. The story is a clever transposition of Homer’s Odyssey to the American south during the Great Depression. There is just one catch. Joel and Ethan Coen, whoContinue Reading

Inspired By Greek Literature: List For Week Ending October 29, 2017

Inspired By Greek Literature: List For Week Ending October 29, 2017

Our films this week are all inspired by Greek literature. Some films are direct adaptations (Zorba The Greek), while others simply transplant elements from the source material into another story (O Brother, Where Art Thou?). Either way, Greek literature produces fine cinema. This is not intended as an all-inclusive list. Reader suggestions are welcome. IfContinue Reading

Film Review: Bad Lucky Goat

Film Review: Bad Lucky Goat

My suggestion for viewing Bad Lucky Goat? Relax and go with it. First-time director Samir Oliveros, who is based in Colombia, has created an offbeat charmer that could become an art house hit with the proper word of mouth. Teenagers Cornelius “Corn” Denton (Honlenny Huffington) and his older sister Rita (Kiara Howard) are sent byContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: Limonata

Film Appreciation: Limonata

I discovered the 2015 Turkish film Limonata, Ali Atay’s feature directing debut, somewhat by accident on Netflix. A couple of viewings later, I am a fan. Atay has a sure instinct for deadpan visual effects, and this suits the story quite well. In addition, he and co-writer Ertan Saban have produced a funny variation on the road/buddyContinue Reading

Siblings: List For Week Ending October 22, 2017

Siblings: List For Week Ending October 22, 2017

Our films this week all focus on relationships between siblings. These can be supportive (To Kill A Mockingbird) or combative (Bad Lucky Goat). Siblings may confront a troubled past (Dark River, Limonata) or work through challenges together (Walkabout). The only common thread is that their interaction makes good cinema. This is not intended as an all-inclusive list.Continue Reading

Film Review: The Florida Project

Film Review: The Florida Project

Sean Baker’s new film, The Florida Project, is an unsentimental look at poverty and life on the edge. At the same time, it is a moving portrayal of a child’s ability to celebrate life even in the harshest of surroundings. Six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) lives week to week with her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) atContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: Little Fugitive

Film Appreciation: Little Fugitive

“Our New Wave would never have come into being if it hadn’t been for the young American Morris Engel, who showed us the way to independent production with his fine movie, Little Fugitive.” Francois Truffaut A desire for independent production has been around as long as there have been films. The Society of Independent MotionContinue Reading

Film Review: Lucky

Film Review: Lucky

John Carroll Lynch’s film Lucky is a warts-and-all character study of the title character, played by the incomparable Harry Dean Stanton. This film makes no attempt to ingratiate itself, but will find its way into your heart just the same. We first meet Lucky at the beginning of a day-and his days are all prettyContinue Reading