You don’t know what true psychological discomfort until you watch the critically acclaimed Dogtooth. Director Yorgos Lanthimos has made a career out of making complicated and extremely evasive films and Dogtooth is the Holy grail. The film follows three siblings being brought up in a life of complete isolation carefully constructed by their controlling parents for motives unknown. The audience, initially captured by the absurdity of their living conditions, spend the rest of the film on a case study of their bizarre lives.
Thematically, it is very similar to Lanthimos’ The Lobster exploring the psychological affects that isolation can have on an individual. A rule of thumb I see in a lot of Lanthimos’ films is that you accept your own reality. This film is no different. Here, Lanthimos explores isolation’s effects on intimacy, understanding and relationships.
The cinematography is subtle but brilliant, it ensures that every shot is filmed in a visually interesting and engaging way. The lighting is notably excellent. The cinematography almost carries this film along with its originality. The music, nothing special, is well used and does accent the coverage in this film nicely.
However, the characters are underdeveloped which I know is meant to mirror the environment they have been placed in. But I can’t help but feel that we (the audience) didn’t develop enough empathy with the characters as a result which as a consequence left me more disengaged. Their lack of development reflects the grim realities of their isolation.
In terms of the dialogue, silence is used magnanimously in this film. The emptiness providers the audience with time to contemplate on what has and is going to happen it’s a sign of mature film making. The acknowledgement that every second of precious screen time doesn’t have to be crammed full of dialogue and fancy cinematography. Otherwise, the dialogue is clever and carries a healthy serving of deadpan humour which helps lighten the darker parts of the film.
The plot in my opinion is one of the drawbacks to this film. It is overdrawn and exhausts the audience, we find ourselves disengaged after an hour of watching because the plot is overspent and has no real narrative backbone. Which, from my perspective, limits the film greatly.
Dogtooth is an extremely bizarre case of you except reality for what it is. Everybody lives in different environments and so base reality off the truths that their environment tells them. Even if these truths aren’t really truths. It’s edgy different and I can understand that it provides this critical unique appeal to people bored of regular cinema. But at times in my opinion this is overdone and at times even with cringe. It’s something to watch for a unique piece of cinema and one thing I can vouch for that this is truly original and authentic in every single way. Nevertheless, originality does not always mean a good work of art. Dogtooth is definitely not for the faint hearted but if you’re bored of regular cinema this might be one to watch.
My name is Yahia El-Tanani and I’m a 20-year-old Biomedical Sciences student at Newcastle University, England. I’m an avid artist and gym-goer. But I really enjoy the small things in life like firm handshakes, good food and hard work, and I hate (and I mean I hate) roses. More importantly than all of that is that I bleed film. Film is my passion, and I’m driven to become a positive influence and voice in the film industry. I’m exactly what it says on the tin. But enough small talk, go follow me on social media and don’t be afraid to have a chat. Why not be two complete strangers discussing our love for film?
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