Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review - Dogtooth

A mother and father have created a completely sheltered world for their three children. Now in their late teens, keeping the secluded lifestyle has become harder and harder to maintain. The parents have tried everything to keep all outside sources controlled, but when one teen learns about sex, the act spreads throughout the household leaving the parents with little room for explanation.

"Dogtooth" is the most insane movie I have watched in 2010. It isn't necessarily insane by the concept, but how the concept is carried out. Parenting is not easy. As children grow up they are constantly influenced by outside stimuli. Stimuli that as parents we may not want our children to experience. But how does a parent restrict access to human nature? How does a parent inhibit what is natural within all of us? "Dogtooth" is a strange and mind bending example of one parents failed attempt at trying to control and influence those stimuli.

For all intents and purposes "Dogtooth" is an example of really bad parenting. The 94 minute drama is filled with numerous head scratching sequences that make the father in me cringe. That said, director Giorgos Lanthimos created a tantalizing movie deals with issues and stimuli that can be hard to discuss with our children. Discussing sex with our kids is not easy, but to avoid it or to sweep the topic under the rug, is even worse. Regardless of whether a parent talks to their children about sex, they will learn about it. If we allow them to learn about it on their own, it could very well lead to situations we do not want to face. Those situations throughout "Dogtooth" are what make it absolutely electrifying.

Outside of sex, the parents within "Dogtooth" have alienated their children from the world. They live within a compound and have restricted TV, movies and music along with any other outside influences such as telephones or even friendships. Much like M. Night Shyamalan's The Village the characters/parents are trying to maintain traditions and rituals in a society that has moved past them. The only way to do this is to trick the children. The difference is, these "children" are not really children. They are teens if not in their 20's. They are becoming adults and as adults they become suspicious of exactly what the parents are preaching.

The performances throughout "Dogtooth" are stupendous. Christos Stergioglou who plays Father is daunting. His performance is both shocking and reserved. As the father figure, Stergioglou must remain the final say on the family and he does a mesmerizing job carrying out the role. His devotion to carrying out the seclusion of his children is mind bending. At the same time he makes a number of mistakes that leave the viewer questioning his sanity. The three children played by Aggeliki Papoulia, Mary Tsoni and Hristos Passaslis are also fabulous in their portrayals. Specifically Papoulia (the oldest girl) who poignantly comes across as stale as a result of her surroundings. Each of the actors really do a fantastic job of capturing the mysticism of youth even though they look to each be in their twenty's. They play the characters as wide-eyed and their performances really become the lynch pin to staying with the film as it plays out.

"Dogtooth" isn't a film that I would necessarily say is technically strong. Their is nothing to note from the cinematography, editing or score. The film and its mechanics are very straight forward doing nothing more than framing the provocative story. The concepts and performances behind the film are what make it so stirring. Like I previously covered, the lengths these two parents go to in order to keep their children secluded is absolutely intoxicating. While "Dogtooth" isn't a film you'll be able to catch at any theater, it is by every means a movie you should take the time to track down and watch.