Reviews: The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

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Yorgos Lanthimos, the director of The Lobster, reunites with Colin Farrell for an even stranger tale.

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The first scene that greets the viewer in The Killing of a Sacred Deer is gruesomely clinical—a top-down view of open-heart surgery, presented in matter-of-fact fashion, set to mournful music by Schubert. It’s an unpleasant image that’s both frightening and fragile, and impossible to look away from. How better lớn describe the work of the Greek writer & director Yorgos Lanthimos, whose particular storytelling style, exemplified by cult hits like 2009’s Dogtooth and 2015’s The Lobster, feels like a whole genre unto itself? Lanthimos’s new film is somehow even more macabre and unsettling than his previous efforts, and yet I also found myself laughing throughout.


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To be clear, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a drama, và a grisly one at times. But it’s infused with Lanthimos’s quality way of looking at the world, which he populates with characters who speak in a robotic, detached manner. Though Sacred Deer makes more of an attempt to lớn resemble real life (The Lobster was phối in a heightened dystopia), it’s lượt thích a warped version of a scary story told to lớn children around a campfire, a cautionary myth in which a seemingly perfect family comes up against an inexplicable force of darkness. With his latest movie, Lanthimos has made a tense, heart-wrenching tale with an admirably askance view of humanity that’s a worthy successor khổng lồ his prior works.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer follows a heart surgeon, Steven (Colin Farrell), who is happily married to Anna (Nicole Kidman), with whom he has two children, Kim (Raffey Cassidy) và Bob (Sunny Suljic). Steven has also taken an awkward teenager named Martin (Barry Keoghan) into his care, probably out of guilt after Barry’s father died under Steven’s knife during an operation; he’s educating the young man in the ways of the world, which in Steven’s eyes mostly involves owning expensive watches.

Quickly enough, Steven’s idyll is shattered, và his family starts khổng lồ experience strange medical crises, one by one. Martin is somehow connected, though the specifics would be unfair lớn spoil; simply put, he is the Rumpelstiltskin of this film, taking an almost mystical revenge on Steven for his father’s death. The movie’s title refers lớn the Greek myth of Iphigenia, who was offered as a sacrifice by her father Agamemnon lớn satisfy the goddess Artemis after he offends her. But Lanthimos takes this concept in a more personal direction—Martin is no angry goddess, but a confused teenager, lashing out at his mentor in ways neither of them can fully understand.

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The Killing of a Sacred Deer is humane và satirical, horrifying & hilarious.

Most of the movie is phối at the hospital where Steven works và where his family is later treated; it’s a beautiful, gleaming facility replete with long corridors. In shot after shot, Lanthimos’s camera glides behind Steven lượt thích it’s silently stalking him, an angel of death ready to tap on his shoulder. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is about the moment that tap finally comes, và the film could even be interpreted as a drama about the mysteriousness of illness & death, và the stifling nature of hospitals.

But the movie is also a biting comedy about the emptiness of having more—a cruel (but still undeniably sharp) deconstruction of the enviable life Steven and Anna have built. Lanthimos and his co-scripter Efthymis Filippou’s peculiar approach to writing dialogue stands out because it often makes the subtext text. If Farrell’s character in The Lobster was somewhat of a loser, his character here is more of a fatheaded elitist, unable to admit his own faults & unduly proud of his achievements. Sacred Deer’s delightfully blunt dialogue makes it all the easier to lớn take relish in Steven’s tragic decline.

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Like any Lanthimos film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer won’t be for everyone. It’s so mannered and austere in presentation, and so plainly damning of its characters, that it can be difficult to lớn connect with it. But Lanthimos doesn’t just want lớn torment his heroes, or his audience. There’s an undercurrent of something much more plainly emotional with Martin, as demonic as his actions initially seem. Keoghan (who was the wide-eyed innocent on Mark Rylance’s boat in Dunkirk earlier this year) never loses the kernel of despair and loss that’s driving his actions. Similarly, Farrell and Kidman make Steven & Anna feel lượt thích more than robotic ciphers at the whims of Lanthimos’s twisted storytelling. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is humane & satirical, horrifying & hilarious, at once a work of realism and fantasy—Lanthimos, yet again, has found a surreal balance between extremes that perhaps no other director could hope to lớn imitate.