Well…how do I go about reviewing this feature; the latest from the unarguably talented Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos? I don’t even think seeing the film would be an answer because it’s peculiar, dark and very different. All of these attributes are good things and though I can imagine this is a film to everyone’s tastes, I certainly liked it, quite a bit in fact.
Surgeon Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) seems to have a good life with wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) and their two children. That notion is questioned upon the first and then almost ever present company of teenager Martin (Barry Keoghan) who is always wanting to see Steven and then does something ‘out there’ to truly test the family.
I don’t want to say much more than that because if this is a film you’re interested to see, then it’s best to go in with no preconceptions or expectations of what you may expect. I’d only seen the trailer a while back and I’m glad I’d almost forgotten the surreal tone set up in that trail because it made the entire movie that more engrossing. It’s certainly an original tale and is deserving of award and applaud. To be honest I’m still sore ‘The Lobster’ didn’t win Original Screenplay earlier this year, I hope this is nominated because it’s so refreshing to see cinema in all its quirky and unusual glory.
This story here is definitely a novel one and the way it’s delivered is in such a way, as if the actors are speaking lines for the first time. It’s this almost stilted manner of dialogue and tense set up throughout that lands the film such a unique and interesting feel. Written by Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou, this narrative keeps you guessing, even with the title of the movie suggesting a possible death you never know where the hell this film is going to go to.
I can’t do this review without talking about the music, there is not a score as such and no one figure in particular is in charge. The film utilises on a mixture of actors singing, choirs or orchestral sounds. There are uses of classical tracks too which all combine to create what I felt was one of the most unnerving soundtracks in a film. The film is dark and unexpected but with the music it steps up a whole extra level to become an incredibly immersive and troubling yarn that makes you feel unease like never before.
I’m not just saying this as some way to describe how the film made me feel like I’ve done in the past; this movie literally made me sit upright and forward on the edge of my seat at one point. The dynamic of this scene is unsettling and so well executed by the director and the actors involved. There are many moments where this racking sense of dread sinks into you but saying that, this is movie that cleverly manages to incorporate humour into its DNA as well. Just in some of the things the characters say and in that dry way it’s spoken help build comedy, extremely inky black comedy but some nonetheless.
It may be chilling and odd for that sake alone but it’s not a huge weakness, in fact I’d hardly call it a weakness at all because I found ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ to be a mesmerising and menacingly surreal example of original and talented storytelling.