Dogtooth Screen 9 articles

Dogtooth

2009

Dogtooth Poster
  • Dogtooth is a film that operates according to a completely self-sufficient internal logic, such that watching its movement, and observing how each and every horrifying or absurd human action produces equally horrifying but (within context) utterly comprehensible reflexive responses, becomes its own form of meta-behaviorist "interpretation," as formalist as any abstract painting.

  • Where Haneke [with The White Ribbon] chooses to punish the audience along with the characters, deliberately stripping his film of anything that might conceivably inspire even fleeting pleasure, Lanthimos makes his mini-fiefdom arresting for its own sake— partly by exaggerating its wanton cruelty until it approaches science fiction, partly by shooting everything from static, disorienting angles that suggest a grotesque parody of conventional domesticity.

  • Functioning as a social critique but operating first and foremost as the driest, bleakest type of comedy, the film seeks not chuckles but gasps of amused horror, a goal most ably and hauntingly achieved during a sick-joke finale in which the bubble is finally burst thanks to a sly bit of pop-culture infiltration.

  • Director Giorgos Lanthimos lays out the rules largely through action rather than exposition, which allows Dogtooth to play as a richly satisfying, blackly comic mystery in spite of its delayed, horror-sourced housebreak plot.

  • [...It] has very little in common with some of the dominant characteristics associated with Greek cinema: it's set mostly in interiors... the characters at the center of the film are completely atypical, in fact, totally balls-out nuts by any national standards; and its style is closer to Ulrich Seidl or Harmony Korine in the way it flattens out space, often capturing its protagonists in awkward, slightly off-center compositions. DOGTOOTH is a real oddity, and as such it merits close attention.

  • [Examining a sex scene:] As she stands to undress the tight framing of the camera effectively separates her face from her body. The white rooms are awash in daylight, making this erotic moment feel sterile, as well as transparent—all the family members know this is happening.

  • Dogtooth, by some queer magic or cinematic frisson, is funny. As the siblings perform a recital for their parents, the Eldest breaks the routine with an eclectic pop culture pastiche of dance moves. Reminiscent of Flashdance, Napoleon Dynamite, and the final scene of Beau travail all at once, her dance plays like a stilted exuberance—she is bursting at the seams of her being, but with what, she couldn’t say.

  • Bitterly funny in its stark irony, the film nonetheless takes on added poignancy in the modern resurgence of reactionary fatherhood. It’s a domestic melodrama for the age of purity balls, a pressure cooker of enforced domicility that can only end in rupture.

  • Stirring, violent, and more than a little bit bizarre, Dogtooth is perhaps the foremost example of the new wave of Greek cinema – ominous, provocative, and surreal... From queasy incestuous moments to the culminating escape from the compound, Yorgos Lanthimos laces his debut with the slightest hint of mordant humour. Much like that of Lars von Trier, his work inspires the sort of laughter that comes with a flinch.

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