With Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster being denied the Palme d’Or at Cannes, I have decided to review one of my favourite of his films. Lanthimos’ The Lobster created massive hype at the festival, not only because it is Lanthimos’ debut English language feature, but also because it has been received excellently among critics. Dogtooth was screened at the 2009 Cannes film festival, winning the Un Certain Regard. The film tells the story of a man who will go to any lengths to protect his family from outside influences.
Dogtooth not only questions the social construct of a ‘perfect family’ but also satirises the subject. The estranged family is very much an exaggeration of the things we expect to see in a loving family, stressing the insanity of it all. The film not only demonstrates this, but also the need for social encounters outside of one’s family. For example, the lack of knowledge of what a cat is leads to a brutal scene in which the son of this family, played by Hristos Passalis, brutally murders the animal out of fear.
Not only does the film question societal expectations, it adds to this with excellent photography. The bleak and washed out colours of the film and the static camera, work to excellent effect. The film captures what are on their own beautiful images but with an extremely uncomfortable context. This is a marvellous technique, with Lanthimos forcing us to observe horrible things.
What only adds to this is the fact that to the family all of this is normal. This nightmarish family experience to them is nothing out of the ordinary. This apparent normality of it all, forcing us to question the family’s values, creates the perfect environment for questioning our societal values.
I would say that Dogtooth is a film that deserved all of the acclaim that it received, with its biting humour, beautifully stark cinematography, and a plot almost reminiscent of Through a Glass Darkly (1961). The film is well worth watching. And hopefully Lanthimos’ genius doesn’t stop there, with The Lobster being released here in the UK on the 16th of October, I believe it’s safe to say that The Lobster will also be a stroke of genius.