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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Movie Review: Dogtooth (2009) and Child Deveopment

Image result for dogtooth poster
Dogtooth (2009)
Starring: Christos Stergioglou, Michele Valley, Angeliki Papoulia
Directed By: Yorgos Lanthimos
Written By: Yorgos Lanthimos & Efthymis Filippou
Release Date: November 9, 2009
Rating: A

Summary: Three kids are forced by their over-protective parents to stay within their home until their dog tooth falls out.

My Thoughts: While words and dialogue mean a lot in the world of cinema, what is even an even greater aspect of cinema is what can be interpreted from these words. Cinema is about how you take what you've seen and heard in order to construct coherent thoughts simply from what you've seen. And this 2009 Academy Award Nominated film that put Yorgos Lanthimos on the map in America tells us a story that will not just leave you on the edge of your seat, but one that will have you question everything you've just seen.
 Yorgos Lanthimos is a great director in the aspect that he makes films that are like nothing you've ever seen before. They're shocking, explicit and frankly, just weird, but they are works of art in themselves as Lanthimos rejects the cliche, as so many writers wish to do, and embraces the obscurities of our society in his work and Dogtooth is no exception.

 The film centers on a group of kids forced by their overly protective parents to never leave their home until their dog tooth falls out. At the start of the film we're merely told what's what and from there we follow these children's lives, having everything develop as days go on and the terrifying implication behind such simple statements like that settle in because it hits us a little later on in the film that the dog tooth will never come out and the children will be forced to stay here forever. That's the kicker and what starts off as this seemingly satirical, dark comedy turns into some nightmarish, horror flick as the biological nature within these young adults begins to unfurl as they grow up confined in their home. From the very start of the film, we understand that these not only do these kids have little to no knowledge about the outside world as they call "saltshakers" "telephones" and are fearful of simple house cats as they believe that they are extremely dangerous creatures. They don't even have names and it is not because they can't, but because they don't understand the concept behind it. All we can characterize these children by are their ages and genders, giving them our own names like "The Boy" or "The Older Girl" because they don't have real ones of their own. And it is only when they begin to wonder about the world outside of their home and why things are they way they are that these children begin to develop who they are as people. They begin to become individuals, even going as far as having one of them create a name for themselves, only to have the other one possibly killed in search of that same kind of individuality. And this all stems from their parent's totalitarian dictation of the way they act, all done in a sick way of protecting them from the evils of the outside world. 

But what their parents fail to realize is that they're all grown up and still trapped within the confines of their own home, a seemingly brightly colored and lit home, but a restrictive one with bright brick walls smiling around them to block any outside access that they're told is there to help them, proving it's not just their father restricting them by deterring them with his words, but the walls as well. They live in the middle of nowhere and they have no idea about what goes on in outside of their home, but interestingly, neither do we. We get a glimpse of society, but we're given a limited view of the world that the children are missing and like them, we're confined to their home to watch them as the madness unfolds.

You can take what you want from the film as it can be interpreted in numerous ways whether it be a political statement on the concept of power and control in a sort of totalitarian unbringing or one on the autonomy of children and that is clever on part of Lanthimos. However, what you see on the screen is that the parents have over their children lives, extending their childhood by taking away every obstacle a person tends to face as they grow up. Everything is carefree as the children are told what to believe and how to act as with children, but the things is, these children are not children, they're adults. And even more so, all children grow up as some point. They soon begin to act out and become individuals who crave knowledge and experience sexual urge and no matter how hard their parents may try, they cannot wipe out biology and it's in that conflict where things begin to go downhill.

 And the peaks and falls of the film are quite unpredictable as tensions during the children's "endurance games" wanes off quickly as they bounce onto the next one after they almost die. No scene is too melodramatic because the set up for the next one is completely different as we bounce from the children passing out after they've chloroformed themselves to them eating at the kitchen table directly afterwards. There's always some sort of movement no matter how big or small it may be. And while Dogtooth may have you muttering, "What the fuck..." as it's credits roll, it's an experience to see this film nonetheless.

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