Dogtooth (Giorgos Lanthimos, 2009)

In theory, I should have fallen head over heels in love with this odd Haneke-Trier hybrid. And while I liked Dogtooth, I too felt that it was a missed opportunity. The technical elements are certainly there, as Thimios Bakatakis provides one of the most visually enthralling films of the year. What Bakatakis does as the director of photography is tip-toe a line between reality and the dream world, where the brutality and insanity that takes place on-screen is given a nightmarish, surreal quality.

Lanthimos’ script is problematic however, as ideas function as the basis for a character. Functioning as a cautionary tale on the dangers of strict parental rule, it effectively strips down everything that is humane and well, human, making the whole exercise disconnecting on an emotional level. In the films of Haneke or Trier brutality that occurs on screen carries a human component wherein there is someone or something that I am capable of connecting with. That sense isn’t quite as prevalent here, though there are fleeting moments. The single named character of the film – a security guard named Christina – provides information of the outside world to the younger members of the family in the film. This act is met with great hostility, therein offering a brief glimpse of conservative political critique that piqued my interest.