Unranked: Dogtooth

Leading questions about the many movies not in the top 250


What is it?

It is a Greek film, and one of five 2010 Oscar nominees available on Netflix Instant, which is neat (the others are I Am Love (costume), Alice In Wonderland (art direction, costume, VFX) and documentaries Restrepo and Exit Through The Gift Shop).

Dogtooth made a surprising showing in the Foreign Language category despite being COMPLETELY INSANE.

What do you mean by that?

Let's list some things prominently featured in Dogtooth- incest, self-battery of the Fight Club variety, prostitution, fake pregnancy, cat murder, alternate vocabularies, fake translations of Sinatra songs, and a bizarrely sticker-based acheivement system.

Wait, what?

Okay- it's about two parents that have raised their three children, now younng adults, in complete isolation for reasons that are never explained. They don't let them watch television or go outside of their walled-in property, and they tell them that if they do, stray cats will tear them apart with their claws.

Also they tell them they have a brother that went outside the fence and met a super-violent death. And they give certain words false definitions, seemingly just ones that would imply the existence of a world outside: "telephone," for example, is what they call saltshakers.

For real?

For real. The whole movie is pretty much just about this family's insane home life.

But what happens?

Well, the dad works at some sort of office, and he pays a female security guard there to come home with him and sleep with his lone son, I guess to satisfy the son's natural urges? This has been arranged before the film starts.

Naturally bringing in an outsider causes some minor ripples in the weird stasis they've set up, but the film is not structured in a very linear way.

Is the film's look as insane as the story?

Nope, it's a beautiful, aethestically pleasant film. The family's compound has a rather large yard, and a pool, which makes for some great compositions during what appears to be summertime.

The parents aren't made to be villains, at least not by music cues and camera angles. They clearly have their reasons for everything they do, even if these reasons are never made clear to the audience in the slightest.

The director, Giorgos Lanthimos, has solidly positioned himself as a master of artful, bizarre simplicity much like Lars Von Trier or Michael Haneke. But don't ask me exactly what he was trying to say.

Should it be on the countdown?

Not quite, but it's definitely a intriguing debut feature. You spend the entire film sort of waiting for it to unravel into a nightmare, when the real frightening part might be how normal it seems to everyone involved.

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