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Dogtooth
Kynodontas
Directed by Giorgos Lanthimos
Greece, 2009
Cornerhouse, 24 April 2010

Dogtooth

It is all very strange and unsettling, this film about an insular Greek family and their routines and celebrations.

Most perceptive viewers are likely to read the relationship between the parents and children as a metaphor for the relationship that holds between the nation-state and its citizens.

Here, the children are kept within the confines of the family home; they play blind man’s buff, stumbling blindfolded and zombie-like into the arms of their waiting mother; later, they are told that a zombie is a small yellow flower, a fact that makes them feel happy and secure.  Misinformation and lies and contrived situations are all part of the mechanism by which the children are controlled and kept in a state of dependence.

But then the stakes are ratcheted up and the giving and receiving of sexual favours, and some rather unpleasant violence, becomes part of the mix too.

Don’t go to see Dogtooth if you are easily shocked or offended or unnerved; the director creates and sustains a genuinely foreboding and ominous atmosphere from the start.  Do go to see the film, though, if you are an admirer of Michael Haneke’s films and/or Ben Marcus’s fiction.  You’ll find in Giorgos Lanthimos (and the writer  Efthymis Filippou) a kindred spirit and intelligence.

As an Orwellian allegory on the political uses of fear (alluding to the war on terror, including even the events at Abu Ghraib), Dogtooth is an impressive work.  Maybe even a masterpiece.

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