MARIA DUARTE sees a disturbing reinterpretation of a Greek myth by Yorgos Lanthimos
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (15) Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos 4/5
AFTER Dogtooth and The Lobster, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos takes the weird and the macabre to a whole new disturbing level in this damning contemporary morality tale.
The film opens to the beating sound and sights of real-life open-heart surgery and that sets the disturbing tone for what is to follow. Lanthimos reunites once more with Colin Farrell from The Lobster, who plays the highly successful and charismatic surgeon Steven.
He’s living the American dream-life with his beautiful and successful ophthalmologist wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) and their two children Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and Bob (Sunny Suljic).
Unbeknown to them, Steven has taken a fatherless teenager Martin (Barry Keoghan) under his wing, showering him with expensive gifts and offers of financial aid. After Martin’s been introduced to his family, the former insinuates himself into their lives and the troubled youngster’s sinister intentions soon become only too clear.
All the characters speak in the same slow, deliberate monotone — a typical device in Lanthimos’s films — and the look and feel of this slow-burning drama is cold and clinical, in keeping with Steven and Anna’s professions and their wealthy, sterile lifestyle. But everything seems a little off-kilter.
With his regular writing partner Efthymis Filippou, Lanthimos explores guilt, elitism, retribution and how actions must have consequences in this twisted version of the Greek myth of Iphigenia —the clue is apparently in the title — who was offered as a sacrifice by her father to appease the goddess Artemis for having offended her.
It is a chilling horror film, with an extraordinary and uber-creepy performance by Keoghan, who played the endearing George in Dunkirk.
Lanthimos proves again that he’s a master film-maker and storyteller who leaves you pondering the virtually impossible moral dilemma faced by the film’s patriarch to save his family.