Dogtooth (Kynodontas) is a 2009 Greek film which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards. The film also won the Un Certain Regard award at the Cannes Film Festival which serves to honor innovative and daring films. It’s a relatively obscure film especially since Dogtooth has not received any form of reception here in the Philippines in print and other forms of media.
This is a film that’s very hard to describe let alone review. Dogtooth tells the story of a wealthy family living in Greece. No names are given to any of them, thus they are simply billed as father, mother, older daughter, younger daughter, and son. The father goes to work nearby while the mother, son and two daughters remain in the house ALL THE TIME. They never leave, and they have never, not even once in their life, left the house. Simply put, it’s a story of a husband and wife who imprisons their children until they have supposedly lost the titular ‘dogtooth’. It’s a simple premise but nothing can prepare you for the shock and brutality of the events that follow. It simply is very hard to describe and even harder to stomach. This movie is not for the faint of heart.
The direction by Yorgos Lanthimos (in only his second feature film), can only be described as stunning and near perfect. He manages to combine several genres including dark comedy, horror, drama, thriller, into one tight film. Lanthimos moves from one shocking scene and revelation to the next in relentless fashion with surprising consistency. It’s been awhile since Michael Haneke and Lars von trier have I seen a director who knows how to shock audiences with powerful and disturbing imagery.
This film is uniquely shot. The oddly framed shots, skewered angles, stunning composition all give this film a visionary look. This film is dialogue driven thus the total absence of a musical score and because of this a lot of scenes, especially the silent ones become unsettling. This film has the atmosphere perfectly nailed.
The cast also delivers brilliant performances. Each of the 6 cast members manage to carry the weight of their characters which is a very hard thing to do considering the weirdness of it all. It’s a testament to the brilliance of Lanthimos’ screenplay and direction.
Dogtooth is a very original movie. Beware though, this film is not for everyone, and it contains very explicit scenes that is definitely not appropriate for a lot of people. Do not watch this if you’re in the mood for a feel good movie because this is going to make you sick. Otherwise, this film is a cinematic masterpiece and shouldn’t be missed.