Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos. 2009.

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Directed and co-written by Lanthimos with his colleague Efthimis Filippou, the winner of Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2009 tells the story of a family cut off from the outside world behind a high wall in a home with a swimming pool, a television that plays only family home movies. The wife is a prisoner much like the three children (one boy, two girls) who are home schooled and refused interaction with the outside world - the father (who only leaves for the factory he owns) is a taskmaster who has told the children that the planet is roaming with 'man-eating cats'.  (The things you believe your parents say.)
This is not home schooling, more like home torturing.  Father brings home a security guard to have intercourse with the son who can fulfil his sexual needs; and the sisters who have already set in sibling rivalry and competitiveness (they race to see who can fall asleep first using chloroform - not realising that neither will know the result)
But whilst it can be declared as 'car-crash' cinema -in the fact that you cannot take your eyes off of the screen - due in part to the short scenes that are more like vignettes of intent by the director, who is substituted by the father as a figure in the film.  The lack of name for the family make you less sympathetic to them - you have no attachment to their wants and needs, your desire of watching a family self-implode by their own hand is fitting for this reality TV society.
In spite of the questionable material and content,  Lanthimos has an unusual confidence in his mise-en-scene construction and cinematograpy - sometimes cutting people off at their heads so we are not privy to absolutely everything.  Natural lighting combined with naturalistic performances by the excellent cast make the film beguiling, shocking and all in all memorable, albeit for reasons you may not consider entertainment, lets just call it cinema - and it is rare to see a brave piece of film-making get the acclaim it deserves.
Dogtooth is released by Mr.Bongo Films and is out now.
Jamie Garwood

Also see Howard Schumann's review of Dogtooth

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