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I give up. After sitting in front of the computer for almost half an
hour, tossing and turning thoughts in my head as I try to write
something about my latest adventure at the Auckland International Film
Festival "Dogtooth", I've decided that it is not possible to do so.
What I will say is this: watching "Dogtooth" was one of the strangest experiences I've ever had. I have honestly never seen any other film like it. Sometimes hysterical, sometimes shockingly intense. It is a hypnotic trip that displays brilliant originality and borderlines pure insanity. In my humble opinion, it is a film that should be watched by every single person, for the experience alone. Sadly, like so many other gems, I'm almost certain that this film will never find a wide release, so, please do seek it out, I beg you all.
I am so glad that I watched the movie cold, as the only things I knew about the movie was a promotional photo and the fact that it's Greek, a decision that I believe made the experience even more powerful for me, and a decision that I advise you all to take.
A whole language of deceit is created by a father to make sure that his family don't venture into the unknown which he fears will corrupt them. This film talks about the myths and lies we are told to maintain status quo and the appearance of stability and normality. It explores the abuse of protecting a child from outside influences to the extreme of denying human instincts and inquisitiveness about their world. Its shows how telling children lies for their own safety makes them fearful of the world and patronises there innate understanding about life. Its amazing because it creates a world with an absurd, fully realised, vocabulary that is completely understood by the members of this family ; its surreal nature forces you to question the oddness and the parameters of your own existence. A life unquestioned and unexplored leads to a stagnant swamp of confusion.
Boy,am I upset with the Sitges Film festival Jurors this year!!! So this film is not for everyone, but if you like realistic and paced films, are not bothered by highly explicit scenes, don't mind taboo subjects, like independent film and are into original stories.... this is the movie for you. I've read negative comments about this movie. I get it. It's not the most easy movie to watch, but I haven't been this pleasantly surprised in a long time. Saw this in Sitges with a packed audience, and I believe most of the people there were glued to the screen and didn't want to see the film end. Surreal, emotional, cruel, realistic and beautiful would be the words I would use to describe this picture. At first you don't really understand what's going on or where you're at, but soon find yourself submerged in the sad and pathetic life of a disturbed family. This is definitely one of the most important indie films of the year; aside from the original and highly meaningful story, the film if impeccably made with astounding performances. Shame on the Sitges film festival! This movie deserved the best actress and the special critics award. And I say that on behalf of most of the other people who were at the festival.
I cannot believe that the obvious political subtext was totally denied in some comments. You only have to take a look at the world we live in to see the clear structure of this alleged "nonsense" film. Total CCTV surveillance? Internet blacklists? Ban of violence in computer games and films? All to protect us? I really don't doubt that the majority of politicians responsible for those developments are not evildoers. Like the parents in this film - the politicians only want the best for all of us. But the little brother outside the garden isn't dead, he has grown up. So the film shows us the end point of this development. Where Zombies are little yellow flowers, there is slavery freedom.
I was expecting some kind of "The Village" film... Just to avoid spoiling.. The lights turned on, the credits were running and everyone was quiet and searching for answers in others looks. Its best surprise that I've got in years. You don't have to be special to watch it, just sit and you'll end it living it, even that it isn't your life. I appreciate latter how good the movie was when I realized that all the scenes didn't need background violins to drive your emotions to a certain field. Everything goes by itself naturally. I just registered to post this, as I couldn't believe those bad reviews. I'm a normal guy that doesn't read reviews, but this movie is different and I was curious about how would other people feel about it. Maybe its one of those that you just love or hate, but at the end you'll feel something that isn't indifference.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Dogtooth is not a comedy. The absurd situations in this film became
humorous several times but I always choked on my laughter as the
subject matter was too serious to be funny. The film is about three
young adults who live with their parents in a large but isolated walled
compound; the two young women and the young man have no knowledge of
the world outside of this place and not much of the world inside of it.
In fact the parents deliberately mislead them with nonsense on nearly
every topic, for instance they claim that men are commonly killed by
cats. Additionally, the siblings are taught the wrong words for certain
objects and concepts, thus a "salt shaker" becomes a "telephone." These
young people have been given a mostly carefree extended childhood at
the cost of ever having any autonomy or knowledge. The parents' theory
seems to be that the world is a terrible place and contact with it is
more damaging than an isolated life. This Eden-like setting is a
blessing and a curse: the characters are free of most problems that
face normal people; they have no real responsibility and thus no worry.
Still, like any human they yearn for answers and they have a certain
half formed desire to be the masters of their own destinies. Further,
in what seems to be a recent development the children are seeking an
outlet for their sexual needs; while the parents can prevent them from
being exposed to any stimulus they cannot stop biological urges from
surfacing. Any solution to this problem is bound to upset the already
fragile artificial world in which they live.
The implications of this film can be applied to any number of societal relationships. The connection these siblings have with their parents is quite similar to the affiliation between a citizen and his government or a believer and his religious institution. The film implies that for any of these relationships to work the individual must forego intelligence and blindly follow the institution although this sort of obedience is contrary to human nature. At the same time, the few people in charge must play their part perfectly in order to keep the trust they've been given; this proves just as difficult for the leaders as the followers, here for example when the parents allow themselves things forbidden to the children and inevitably draw unwanted attention.
Dogtooth is a film that raises all sorts of questions about the individual and the society he is forced to play a part in and it encapsulates these questions into a deceptively simple plot. Wisely, rather than answer these questions the film leaves these questions to be pondered by the viewer even as it neatly reduces the entire question to the absurd.
If you are easily offended by bold unusual film-making especially in the areas of sex and violence do not see this film. That said I just saw this at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and thought it was a very interesting and very brave film. Well worth seeing if you can like strong, unusual films. Probably close to 30% of the audience walked out, but I was encouraged by the 70+% that remained, especially since most of the audience were 60+ Americans. The 20-somethings I talked to on the way out were very enthusiastic. The woman sitting next to me said "What did it mean? I don't understand" but to me there were enough deep meanings and points to ponder on a 30-minute drive home and I can't wait to tell friends about it. Everything from the dangers of creating a "perfect family" to "the mechanization of capitalism and upper middle class life" to metaphors for the dangers of repressive families and governments. At it's simplest, it proves that people, especially young ones, are in so many ways what their parents make them. This is not a film you will forget!
In Greece, when talking about Greek movies we like, one of the
expressions we mostly use is "it was good, for a Greek movie". I am
glad to say that this one was good, period. It is definitely not an
easy movie to watch, as it can be really intense and deals with one or
two traditionally taboo issues, but it is definitely worth giving it a
chance. For me it has been a completely surreal experience, best
described as stepping into a world as peaceful as heaven and as
confining as hell, where things seem to work in their own whimsical
way, leaving me with a constant bafflement as to what is to come next.
I honestly did not realize how time went by and, when it all came to an
end, I found myself asking for more. This is a movie that disturbed,
moved and fascinated me while I was watching it and made me think after
having watched it. It is surreal, it is symbolic (it could definitely
be seen from a political point of view), it is ironic and at times it
can be unexpectedly funny in a dark, twisted way. Directing it in a
"dry", "strict" manner, as if just trying to capture the events that
take place, was definitely a perfect choice, as was the complete
absence of music. The actors did a great job at acting in the
emotionally detached manner that was required plus, I have to say, it
probably took lots of guts for them to do some of their most "awkward"
scenes. All in all, I would say I admired the artistic integrity of the
director and actors and their dedication to getting across the main
idea and the atmosphere of this movie.
I don't really know how I could classify "Dogtooth". Is it a drama? (Well for a drama it is kind of under-plotted.) Is it a comedy? (It is definitely not a comedy, even when you laugh you are still disturbed by the absurdity of it all.) Is it horror? (It is not horror, it's just a horrific situation but everything, the horror, the violence etc is mostly implied.) Is it fantasy? (Well it is an alternate reality, but mind you this is a family that kind of looks "normal" on the outside!) So really, I give up. It's just a really strange, really intriguing movie, one that in my opinion is definitely worth your time.
Oh and one more thing: it is also one of these movies that it is best to know the least things possible before you see them. Quite a few things (particularly the funny ones) are based on shock value - not that the whole movie is based on shock value, of course. If you ask me, even the theatrical trailers show too much.
Not a lot of movies shock me. So I was quite surprised the unsettling
impact Dogtooth had on me. A father locks up his 3 children who are in
their late teens - early twenties in a large house and they have stayed
there all their lives.
The three children are told lies of various degrees. Living totally isolated from the world and in a manufactured universe, they do not react like normal people would. The lack of awareness and exposure makes for very interesting scenarios and reactions.
The film can be pondered upon on several levels. For instance, governments never really tell their people any thing close to the whole truth. Thoughts on these lines - the harms caused by leaving people in the dark are the obvious things one can take back from the movie.
I am very interested in the alternate viewpoint of the parents though. They genuinely thought exposing the children to the world would be harmful for them. While that is not some thing one can possibly agree with, there are some positives which do come out of it in my opinion. For instance, when one of the girls who has never having been exposed to popular culture, dances, she creates some thing unique. As she has not seen any thing before, she is not influences by any thing and creates her own style. That is a positive in my mind.
This is film which is close to a masterpiece. When the film had released, it was panned in The New York Times and received an average review from Roger Ebert. I am quite pleased then, that it is slowly getting appreciation and is ending up in a few best of the year lists as well. This is a must watch according to me. 8.5/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is about our society and our behavioral patterns as a
It's about what IS happening. Think about it. Τhat is why we don't know where or when everything is happening. This film demonstrates a universal problem. People might think that it is a mockery of western society or capitalism. I don't believe that to be true. It's the same weather you live in the middle east or in Europe. Whether you have cappitalism or communism. It's not specified politically. Because in the end it doesn't matter. It is about our lives and how we choose to lead them. We ARE trapped. We are being told LIES every day from our parents, who want the best for us, but they don't know any better. But they were raised the same way they are raising us. It's a circle. And from our governments as well. But we can't break free, because that's all we know. We still choose to participate in such a society. That is the absurd. And that is why this movie is surreal or supposedly weird and raw.
But what about reality shows? Or splatters? Or Rambo? Or Die Hard? Aren't they absurd? Yes. Do we watch them? Yes. Because they're not about us. That's why so many people hated this movie, or didn't want to understand it.
We are trained to watch absurd things and yet, when it comes to mirror our society or our lives, we turn away from it.
Please watch it. It's brilliant!
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