Dogtooth – Review

25 Sep

I, personally, have not seen a whole lot of movies from Greece. I know they exist, but we just never seem to cross paths. That is until I saw Yorgos Lanthimos’ film Dogtooth. I got wind of this movie from hearing and reading from different sources and people about how weird it is, but also how well crafted it was also. Then upon learning that it was the first Greek film in years to be nominated for the Best Foreign Film award at the Oscars, I figured that I’d better quick add it to my list of movies to see. Well, I’ve finally gotten around to it and…well…wow…

DogtoothPoster

In an unspecified time at an unspecified place somewhere in Greece, a father (Christos Stergioglou) and mother (Michelle Valley) work hard to keep their three children (Aggeliki Papoulia, Christos Passalis, and Mary Tsoni) safe from the dangers of the outside world. Of course, this is the job of every parent, but it becomes strange when the children are fully grown and have never stepped foot beyond the gates that surround the house. The parents spend their days teaching the children a bunch of misinformation and scaring them away from wanting to go anywhere outside the gates. The children, knowing only what their parents tell them, are in fact afraid, but their curiosities start to get the better of them when their father starts bringing home a woman, Christina (Anna Kalaitzidou) for his son.

Let me start by saying that this movie is absolutely not what I expected. I went into Dogtooth thinking that it was going to be so weird and surreal that I would pretty much have to shut off that part of my brain that knows what it does about movies and just hold on for the ride. This really isn’t true. There is a clear beginning, middle, and end with actual character development and a story that is as concrete as it needs to be. Without looking at all the symbolism and other jazz like that, this is simply a movie about parents who are holding their children away from ever really learning anything constructive. Of course, that’s not the kind of cinephile that I am. I love looking for what a movie may possibly mean other than the obvious, and let me tell you, there’s quite a message to be had.

dogtooth

 

What I really love about this movie is how loudly Lanthimos is yelling his point. What I, and many other people, have taken from Dogtooth is an idea of anti-censorship, and not just on a bug level. Sure, the movie can definitely speak about censorship of art and the stupidity behind the reasoning of not allowing someone to say or create what they want. I’d much rather read this as a satire behind family and the obsessive nature of some parents to protect their children. While this movie is over the top in how the parents and sheltered children are represented, I think everyone can attest that they have met someone that has been overly sheltered by whoever their guardians were. Keeping your children away from experiencing the negative sides of the world can do more harm than good, and that’s what Lanthimos is trying to say with Dogtooth, which i think is a brilliant and altogether unique message.

Going back to the story, this is a classic example of less is more. Lanthimos and co-writer Efthymis Filippou tell the story of one of the most twisted families in film history by not giving the audience a whole lot of information. We know the father works at a factory, but what kind of factory. There are many instances of technology from the past 20 years, but we never really know what time period it is. The children are taught wrong definitions to words, but we don’t really know why. There’s also a mysterious older brother on the other side of the fence that the children believe exist, but where did that lie ever come from? This is a strange way to tell the story, but it made me as a viewer feel just as disconnected with reality as the children did. That along with camera angles that would make a film textbook self destruct.

Dogtooth is one of those movies that you’re going to want to think about for a few days before you can make a decision on whether or not you like it. Me, personally, it wasn’t a perfect film and it kind of wore on me after a little bit, but it was definitely interested to hold my attention until the end. This isn’t a traditional film with a traditional story, but a story is there and the message is unique and necessary, even if you don’t quite agree with it. This film isn’t for people who are looking for a straightforward film that explains everything clearly, which is totally an ok thing. Dogtooth forced me to put the pieces together and made me feel isolated at the same time, and for that I say it was a good film.

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2 Responses to “Dogtooth – Review”

  1. CMrok93 September 25, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

    This movie is quite fucked up, but it’s also surprisingly funny. Mostly at times when you don’t expect it to be, but funny nonetheless. Good review.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. MOVIE REVIEW | ***FOREIGN LANGUAGE WEEKEND*** Dogtooth (2009) – Bored and Dangerous - May 8, 2016

    […] Other Opinions Are Available.  What did these people have to say about Dogtooth? The Guardian Roger Ebert My World Vs the Movies […]

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