Dogtooth (Greece; 94 min.)


directed by:Giorgos Lanthimos
starring: Christos Stergioglou; Michelle Valley; Hristos Passalis; Aggeliki Papoulia; Mary Tsoni
Kynodontas
 

Bruce says: "Dark comedy either grabs you or keeps you at arm’s length.  Fortunately DOGTOOTH is the type of film that is intriguing from the get go.  In an early scene a mother (Michelle Valley) is giving her three children - a teenage boy and his two teenage sisters – a vocabulary lesson.  Her definitions of the words are entirely wrong and it takes but a split second to realize that she is purposefully misleading them so they cannot go out into the world.  DOGTOOTH is a cautionary tale: parenting should be taken seriously but there are limits to the control parents should exert over their progeny. 

"The family lives in the country in a compound, a suburban type house with a large yard enclosed by a towering hedge plus a very secure fence.   The children have never seen a person other than their parents.  There is no TV and, although the parents have a phone, it is kept under lock and key in the bedside table.  The only things that the parents cannot eradicate from sight are the airplanes that fly over the house.

"The father is both authoritarian and chauvinistic, the latter evidenced by his sexual proclivities, his fascination with pornography and his assumption that his wife should cater to his needs.  Ever the disciplinarian, he is the one who concocts the rules and dishes out the punishment.  According to him, their life is idyllic.  When a co-worker inquires about his wife, he says, 'She is not well.  She’s in a wheelchair, can’t go out, and doesn’t want visitors.' 

"DOGTOOTH is full of surprises.  Lanthimos is a filmmaker who never wants his audience to jump to conclusions.    The first dramatic turn occurs when the father brings home a female guard from his factory to service his son.  The father is afraid that his son will direct his sexual energies towards his sisters if he does not have another outlet.   It certainly is obvious to the viewer that introducing an outsider to a totally insular, irrational environment will create chaos.  And that is exactly what happens.  New words are introduced.  When one of the girls asks her mother the meaning of pussy, she is told, 'A bright light.  When we switched the pussy off, the room was in darkness.'   Much of what follows is not quite so amusing, but that is only appropriate.  Cautionary tales are never one hundred percent entertainment.   5 cats

"(DOGTOOTH screened at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.)"