Dogtooth (Kynodontas) (18)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

Review byMatthew Turner22/04/2010

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 94 mins

Brilliantly directed and superbly written, this is one of the best films of the year – a weirdly topical, heavily allegorical drama that is simultaneously chilling, thought-provoking and darkly funny.

What's it all about?
Directed by Giorgos Lanthimos, Dogtooth stars Christos Stergioglou and Michelle Valley as a Greek father and mother who have kept their three teenaged children – Elder Daughter (Aggeliki Papoulia), Younger Daughter (Mary Tsoni) and Son (Hristos Passalis) – in total isolation for their entire lives. In addition to controlling their vocabulary (e.g. making them think ‘telephone’ is the word for salt), the father and mother convince their children that the world outside their walled-in garden is a dangerous and hostile place, where cats are vicious man-eating predators, planes are toys that fall from the sky and no one can leave until they lose their ‘dogtooth’.

However, when the father starts bringing home co-worker Christina (Anna Kalaitzidou) and paying her to service the son's burgeoning sexual urges, things quickly get out of hand, as Christina makes advances towards Elder Daughter and secretly shows them movies on videotape that lead to some disturbing imitative behaviour.

The Good
The multi-layered, heavily allegorical script is brilliantly written and works on several different levels at once, not the least of which is a chilling and weirdly topical echo of the Josef Fritzl case. Lanthimos cleverly allows the details of the teenagers' world (complete with all kinds of strange rules and games) to unfold slowly and each new piece of information is either horrifying or darkly funny and frequently both at the same time, particularly Son's violent confrontation with a vicious, man-eating pussycat.

The performances are excellent, particularly Stergioglou, who nails the complex task of making Father both chillingly monstrous (his punishment of Elder Daughter is utterly horrific) and simultaneously caring, albeit in a massively over-protective way.

The Great
Lanthimos orchestrates some terrific scenes, many of which will stay with you long after the credits have rolled. The film will also reward multiple viewings because there's so much to absorb and think about that you'll find yourself thinking about it for weeks afterwards (it's also the sort of film that's destined to end up on university courses everywhere).

Worth seeing?
Dogtooth is an extraordinary film and it's safe to say that you won't have seen anything quite like it. By turns chilling, horrifying, thought-provoking and very funny, this is quite simply unmissable.

Film Trailer

Dogtooth (Kynodontas) (18)
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Content updated: 23/09/2018 06:13

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