After the untimely death of 16-year-old Martin's father on the operating table, little by little, a deep and empathetic bond begins to form between him and the respected cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr Steven Murphy. At first, expensive gifts and then an invitation for dinner will soon earn the orphaned teenager the approval of Dr Steven's perfect family, even though right from the start, a vague, yet unnerving feeling overshadows Martin's honest intent. And then, unexpectedly, the idyllic family is smote by a fierce and pitiless punishment, while at the same time, everything will start falling apart as the innocents have to suffer. In the end, as the sins of one burden the entire family, only an unimaginable and unendurable decision that demands a pure sacrifice can purge the soul. But to find catharsis, one must first admit the sin.Written by
Ex Exspecto, Sonata for Bayan Solo
Written by Sofiya Gubaydulina (as Sofia Gubaidulina)
(c) by Musikverlag Hans Sikorski GmbH & Co. KG, Hamburg
Performed by Janne Rättyä
Recording licensed courtesy of Janne Rättyä See more »
Iphigenia in Aulis
What a strange filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos is. Had I not already seen "The Lobster" (2015) (and have since seen two of his earlier Greek productions), I probably would've been completely taken aback by this one, "The Killing of a Sacred Deer." Like its predecessor, its characters seem to occupy some alternate reality entirely dominated by egocentrism, deviant sex and magical retaliatory justice. Again, the acting is intentionally stilted, and there seem to be archaic literary references. I found the eye-for-an-eye pun of "The Lobster" amusing, but the source of Ancient-to-Classical Greek mythology here is quite a treat for me. At university, I took a class, not unlike the daughter in this movie, that included reading the play "Iphigenia in Aulis" by Euripides and, then, viewing the 1977 film adaptation "Iphigenia" directed by Mihalis Kakogiannis. Unfortunately, the result in "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" is rather muddled.
In the Greek myth, King Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter, Iphigenia, at the behest of the goddess Artemis to allow him and his troops to proceed on the warpath to fight the Trojans. In some versions, Iphigenia is replaced by a deer, hence the title of this movie. The reason I don't think the effects work as well here as they did in "The Lobster" is because whereas that movie took human shortcomings to absurd extremes, this one takes what was already by modern standards an absurd myth and attempts to make it modern and more ordinary. Gods are dead and replaced by doctors, and if there is a god, apparently, he's a pockmarked teenager seeking revenge for his dead father. I suppose a surgeon's wife role playing during sex as a patient under general anesthesia and a father recalling to his son the time he masturbated his father is more in line with some of the sexual perversity one finds in some Classical Greek literature, though. Yet, overall, it comes across as disjointed. If this were supposed to be a psychological thriller, it seems difficult to lure the spectator in without being able to identify with the characters--whereas this was unnecessary in the black comedy of "The Lobster" (and contradictory to the intent of the Greek movies). But, the stilted acting and illogical premise of the narrative works against identification. I don't think any amount of tense scoring and camera movement from distant perspectives can alleviate that--in a world where nothing is sacred.
P.S. I still don't quite get the point of "Groundhog Day" (1993) as the film-within-the-film. Is it just because characters in both are prisoners of fate or something? I prefer the self-reflexivity of the director's prior "Dogtooth" (2009) and "Alps" (2011).
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