Director: Giorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Christos Stergioglou, Michele Valley
This is going to be one of the most unconventional reviews I've written, because Dogtooth is such a unique film that I don't want to give away any of the film's plot or any specifics because it is far more interesting to experience it from level zero like I did, not knowing anything about it, and letting the plot reveal itself naturally.
I can critique Dogtooth without giving much away, however, and I can certainly say that it is one of the most thought-provoking films I've seen in quite some time. Once revealed, the actual plot is simple, but the ramifications of the actions on the screen sounded some serious alarms in my head that I couldn't shake for a day or more. Soon after Dogtooth ended, I was sitting alone in my living room, playing back the film in my head, and became really creeped out, yet I couldn't stop thinking about the film, which was incredibly exhilarating to me. I felt like I was back in AP English class my senior year of high school when my teacher had just shown us Philippe de Broca's 1966 classic King of Hearts and then told us that in the 15 minutes left in the class, we were to write a 5 paragraph critical essay breaking down what we had just seen. There aren't a lot of films where you sit and think about them, whether you want to or not, for hours, but Dogtooth is a rare exception.
The execution of Dogtooth is quite good; director Lanthimos films everything in white and pastels, and though everything is bright, there is a matte finish to it, which made it all the more surprising to me that it was filmed in 35mm. It's sometimes hard to judge acting when it's not being done in a language you understand, but I think that bad acting is universally recognizable and that definitely wasn't the case here.
Dogtooth is shocking, disturbing and without having done a lot of digging, I would imagine it's been pretty polarizing. In a film full of disturbing events, both cerebral and visual, I will admit that there was one point when I completely lost it and almost abandoned the film because I was so shaken by what had just occurred. I still think that, though that scene was necessary the graphic nature wasn't, but I am profoundly happy I continued to watch the film because in the end I thought Dogtooth was outstanding. I think it is one of the best films I've seen in a while, yet I think if I recommended it to most people I know they would watch and then either think I'm strange for admiring it so much or just punch me in the face for putting them through the experience. I mean, I actually had to reassure a good friend of mine that liking this film didn't make us bad people - true story.
Regardless, I do admire Dogtooth for being so daring and once again it serves as a reminder that there is so much great work out there that doesn't come from the good old U.S. of A. And remember, I avoided specifics for a reason in this review - if you do decide to watch Dogtooth, the less you know about it going in, the better. Just don't punch me in the face afterward.
4 stars out of 5