Tuesday, April 26, 2011

DOGTOOTH (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2009, Greece)

An incestuous tale of parental desire to protect their children from the evils of the world by controlling their minds through limiting their knowledge and environment. DOGTOOTH is a parable of the corrupting influence of home schooling where children are taught only what the parents deem necessary, obfuscating the objective truth.

Director Yorgos Lanthimos builds this abusive narrative with a hypnotic rhythm of monotone dialogue and static compositions. The film begins with the three nameless adult siblings (two sisters and a brother) being taught new words...but given the wrong definition. It soon becomes obvious that this is a closed world where the children have always existed, a controlled environment where they have learned only what their parents have taught them. The father travels from the fenced-in compound, which haunts an arid and isolated landscape, to his office job where he has hired pretty security guard to “service” the needs of his son. Christina is an outsider and thus the only character named in the film, and she is kept blindfolded when she is taken to the house. She has passionless sex with the son, the act like two plastic mannequins being rubbed together, and soon develops a crush on one of the sisters. This outside force has a destructive effect upon the nuclear structure, as she trades two video cassettes (Rocky & Jaws apparently) that reveal secrets and mysteries of this strange world that lingers outside the perimeter. In one brutal scene, the father admonishes the daughter who has been mimicking these films by beating her with a VHS tape, then bashes Christina in the head with a VCR.

The rebellious sister knocks out her canine tooth in order to escape safely (another obscure lie told by the family to foster fear of the outside world), but finds herself in a smaller world cloaked in darkness and dread. But she only needs to leave the shadows behind and walk towards a new life.

Final Grade: (B+)