The Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos presents his new film The Killingof a Sacred Deer only 2 year after the major success of The Lobster (2015). Just like The Lobster, this new feature film is an almost absurd overall experience, definitely deserving its award for Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival this year.
Steven (Colin Farrell) is an intelligent cardiologist, who takes the teenage Martin (Barry Keoghan) under his wing after the boy’s father died in surgery. Things turn sinister when Martin blames him for killing his father. Martin gradually disorders Steven’s family life until only one solution is left: an unimaginable sacrifice.
The film is very accessible, because it’s full of ordinary and light dialogues, like for example the opening scene where Steven and his colleague discuss where to buy watches. But still these dialogues remain consistent and straight-out witty at times. The scenario is extremely strong, without any superfluous scenes. Even these seemingly clueless dialogues make the whole more absorbing and relatable.
It’s the second time after The Lobster that Lanthimos casted Farrell in the leading role. His wife Anna in this film is performed by Nicole Kidman. I’m not usually a big fan of hers, but she fits the role perfectly. Steven and Anna have two kids together Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and Bob (Sunny Suljic) and they live a peaceful and wealthy life. Although, you might wonder whether the family knows human emotions or the rules of pragmatics, because how they communicate can be considered apathic. Their reaction to dramatic events is a bit too ‘cool’, where a normal human being would freak out. This is clearly one of Lanthimos’ directing strategies. Their acting-cool works distancing, but simultaneously intriguing. Barry Keoghan, who is known for his role in Nolan’s Dunkirk, plays the creepy Martin, who plays an horribly sadistic eye for an eye-game. All of this gets combined with abombastic classical soundtrack, that sometimes is even overrules the dialogues, which gives them the extra punch.
The film is full of explicit, but symbolic visuals, like the sequence of a beating heart at the very beginning. This is 1 full minute focus on an open chest and is a metaphoric way to introduce our protagonist the cardiologist,the one who has the life of others in his hands. I wonder whether mainstream audience will understand such content, but I think it’s quite genius.
After watching, I left the theatre with an immense ‘what the fuck’-feeling. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a psychological horror, a revenge-story. Those who liked The Lobster will think of it as finger-licking-good. But just like his last film, it’s a matter of love it or hate it. You know what you see is not real, and can’t possibly become real, but still you feel so involved. And that’s the Lanthimos-magic.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer will be released in Belgium on November 1st 2017.