Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dogtooth [Kynodontas] (2009)

If there ever was a film that you could describe as "fucked up", this is definitely it. I have seen Irreversible at least 5 times. I have sat through Anatomy of Hell. But, none of that have prepared me for this. This is like watching the two films in a loop, while listening to Josef Fritzl's reading of his own diary. I was, quite simply, perturbed by it. I can't remember a time where I had to run out of the cinema for some fresh air. It really shook me. And it will shake you too. Because, it's somewhat awesome.

Father and Mother keep their three children (Older Daughter, Younger Daughter, and Son) in a large countryside house somewhere in Greece. The children are in their 20s and have never left the house. Ever. They are led to believe by the parents that their other Brother lives across the fence, so the children are seen throwing pieces of food and occasionally stones over the hedge. They are told that they can only leave the house when their right dogtooth falls off.

The children live in a perpetual childhood innocence, but the Father is all too aware of the difficulties that they may face growing up. He brings home the security guard who works at his factory, Christina, to ... how do I say it ... relieve the Son's urges. This patriarchal approach doesn't pay off in the end ... but that would be giving away too much. Soon, Christina starts servicing the Older Daughter in exchange for gifts, which brings an end to the idyllic world the parents had set for their children.

What follows is a downward spiral to situations and scenes will shock the most hardened of us all, but not for their own sake. Somehow, it all makes sense - everything follows a logical path. When the Father confronts Christina, we get a glimpse of why he set up this elaborate lifestyle for his family.

On the downside, the lack of a discernible plot makes the whole thing a little redundant and, well, slightly boring. The pace is at best pedestrian. The camera is always static and more often than not characters are out of shot. Also, even if the patriarchy ends up destroying the status quo it had created, the Mother is an annoyingly passive character. Perhaps that ties in well with its theme, somewhat. But I felt a little shortchanged.

The mechanics of the film require a little while to get used to and there are a lot of issues with the story itself, but all in all this is as challenging a film as you will ever see. And somehow it is darkly (I mean supermassive black hole darkly) funny. I'm glad that I don't have a sibling, otherwise the next get-together would have been very awkward.

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