The Killing of a Sacred Deer is available in: English [Original] on Netflix Canada
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Dr. Steven Murphy is a renowned cardiovascular surgeon who presides over a spotless household with his wife and two children. Lurking at the margins of his idyllic suburban existence is Martin, a fatherless teen who insinuates himself into the doctor's life in gradually unsettling ways.
A surgeon's carefully curated life edges toward disaster when a troubled teenage boy with mysterious motives begins to impose himself on his family.
Sacred Deer is a suburban Greek tragedy that draws inspiration from Euripides’ _Iphigenia in Aulis_ – a character even mentions this title in a key scene – and it plays out both as you’d imagine and with great shock and originality. Lanthimos and his writing partner Efthymis Filippou may just be my favourite writing team working today – they haven’t let me down yet.
The cast is spectacular here with Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell in top form bringing the odd words of Lanthimos and Filippou to life – albeit a very, very strange life. Farrell, having worked with Lanthimos on The Lobster, had nothing but high praise for the director during tonight’s Q&A after the screening of the film. He even said they were planning another project to work on together. He’s slowly becoming a muse and their relationship is turning into a DiCaprio-Scorsese type partnership (except I look forward to these way, way more).
The audience I was in had a hard time with this film – there was audible shock and disgust during the film and the applause as it ended was slight. I think people were genuinely scandalized by this one and that makes me like it even more. Keep shocking audiences, Lanthimos, you Greek bastard. I’ll be in line every single time!
_Final rating:★★½ – Had a lot that appealed to me, didn’t quite work as a whole._
Dogtooth and The Lobster (from the same Greek director, who I must admit has a keen sense of storytelling) did not impress me at all. Very interesting ideas; atrocious presentations. Dogtooth was indecipherable and The Lobster is cruel, ugly, and not humorous in any fashion (I’ve no idea why it’s billed as a black comedy.)
However, this latest film is entertaining to me despite it’s grim and inky-black nature (based on the ancient Greek play, which is where the title is loosely derived from.) Perhaps it’s a bit more straight-forward despite its cryptic nature, a bit more involved in some form of reality we can recognize and less inference as to what the hey is really happening. But I sure watched it w/ more interest than The Lobster (I’ve no interest in the director’s film prior to that one.)
A successful heart surgeon (w/ a past history of alcoholism, sober for some time at present) is shown to have an uneasy alliance w/ the teenaged son of a patient who died on the operating table. It’s clear the boy has some hold over this surgeon, who seems eager to please him but his heart’s not into it (no pun intended.)
The boy’s true intentions are revealed as events move forward; the surgeon’s wife and two children (a few years apart, both intelligent in their own ways) are placed in grave danger as well as dear old Dad, and to reveal just how would spoil it for first-time viewers.
The camera-work here is impeccable, as are the jarring soundscapes, found-sounds, and industrial noise which makes for harrowing listening. The actor playing Martin, the teenaged oddball w/ a shared secret, is riveting to watch in a well-suited role.
Sacred Deer isn’t so much a horror-film as a drama w/ strong elements of dream-like reality, awkward young romance, and assorted chills and cold calculated sex-scenes involving “playing dead” and “the other.”
My biggest complaints would be as before w/ this director’s work: everyone speaks their lines as if hearing them through an ear-piece to parrot back, which makes the cast seem rather stilted and robotic. This director favors a weird tangent of “Mamet-speak.”
The ending is about what you’d expect, following the matter-of-fact discussions which precede it. Up until that point Sacred Deer does a pretty good job keeping us wondering what will happen next, where will things lead, what is that kid’s gift and whereupon was it bestowed; unfortunately the outcome isn’t as entrancing or unexpected as I’d hoped.
But overall worth my time to watch. Considering how disappointed I was by the previous films by the director I’d watched (great reviews, all of which confounded and puzzled me) this film was much less of a bore and a chore to watch. A pleasant, unpleasant surprise indeed.