Thursday 29 August 2013

Review: Dogtooth

World of Blackout Catch-up Review

Dogtooth Poster

Cert: 18 / 95 mins / Dir. Giorgos Lanthimos

Okay, first things first: 2010's Dogtooth is weird. I mean, seriously, fucked up weird. That trailer barely even scratches the surface. Lies, deception, incest, people acting out scenes from Rocky, it's all there.

The film centres around a family living in rural Greece. The parents have raised their now-adult children with little-to-no knowledge of the outside world. This manifests itself in ways such as telling them that the planes they see in the sky are in fact toy planes which could (and sometimes "do") fall into the garden; teaching them false definitions of words (eg, 'sea' is the cushioned item you sit on in the living room, that's next to the sofa); and the father pimping out the female security guard at his work to come and have sex with his eldest son. All of which happens for reasons which are not revealed to the audience. I know sometimes 'crazy' doesn't need a reason, and that their isolated world is built up meticulously, but (for my money) Lanthimos spends too much time focusing on the how and not even touching the why. I didn't expect the film to answer all of the questions it raises, but there's very little in the way of resolution by the final scene.

When you start with the weird-dial turned up to 10, where do you go from there? The film does manage to up the shock-ante, but I was left with a feeling of distinct narrative-claustrophobia as the plot itself didn't seem to go anywhere. Indeed, it's less of an actual plot and more of following these weirdos around the house for an hour and a half. And it is unfortunate as Dogtooth is made with real dedication. An unflinching camera watches the family emotionlessly for long stretches where any normal person would have looked away, and I really have to hand it to the cast on a spectacular job all round.

As a pedantic aside, I did find some stumbling points with the education the parents are giving the children (if "roadtrip" is a highly durable material, does that mean they also haven't learned the words "road" or "trip"? 99% of the language they speak is completely normal, and the 'off' words are heavily showcased, but language doesn't really work like that). And as there's a Windows XP logo in the background on one of the computers, why would another one of the characters be carrying VHS tapes of Rocky and Jaws, post-2001? VHS tapes, sure, but why those films? That said, with a film as fucked up as Dogtooth, those questions don't even begin to matter.

Ultimately, this film wasn't made for me. Then again, this film wasn't made for most people. I wasn't excited, outraged or offended, just baffled.

Is the trailer representative of the film?
It represents the parts it shows perfectly. The rest, it can't show.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
Probably not to be honest, I was overthinking it from a narrative point-of-view.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
I have no clue.

Buy, pay to rent, or wait until it's on for free?
With the best will in the world, 'free'. Unless your an arthouse buff.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I will view you with deep suspicion if you pretend to understand any of it.

Will I watch it again?
I can't see that happening.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
There isn't.

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

And my question for YOU is…
Explain, please.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a 'catch-up' review. I watched this film at home, not at the cinema. I saw the trailer for this at the cinema, and I would have seen the film there too, but they didn't/couldn't show it. So now iTunes, Amazon, Netflix and Blockbuster get to reap the rewards of my local's advance-advertising, and I'm sure they're delighted. Now you may say "oh come on, they can't show everything down there", and that would be a valid point if they didn't do things like running Taken 2 for six weeks. Was it that successful? No, I don't think so. Twilight? Batman? Les Mes? Sure, go for it; if they're pulling the punters in then keep making that money. But Taken 2? I ask you. Anyway, this is essentially a DVD review, but still of a new(ish) film. There. I'm glad that's sorted.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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