Sunday, 27 September 2009

Dogtooth


At the time this is being written, I am still processing the things I saw in George Lanthimos's Movie, "Dogtooth" ("Kynodontas" in Greek). This movie can be watched on many levels: as a darkly humorous take on the traditional Greek family, as a psychological experiment conducted on the big screen "for our eyes only", but which experiment easily draws us in and in fact, experiments on our reactions to the contrasting imagery, or even as a collection of very disturbed and disturbing images which, in fact, show that a small measure of madness and misguided love of ideals, principles and the concept of family, can go a long way towards going down in the annals of human atrocity.


I may be getting ahead of myself here, but I really needed to get the movie's aforementioned analysis - being the ONLY analysis you will get on it from me - out of my head, so that I may leave it behind me and not be tempted to get into specifics, which would only ruin the viewing for you. I was given the opportunity to see this movie during Athens's Premiere Nights thanks to Kyoshiro who, being among the people who worked on it, was sent an invitation and took me along.

Left to right: Chris Passalis, Mary Tsoni, Chris Stergioglou
Angelica Pappoulia, George Lanthimos.

I have not gone to many movie premieres in my life, much less any of Greek movies, but what was taking place at DANAOS cinema was a complete first in my experience: a veritable sea of people were waiting inside and out of the cinema, filling its lobby and the sidewalk outside, to a degree that if you got caught somewhere in the middle, you simply stayed put until other people decided to move. I think the screening was actually delayed around an hour until every name and invitation had been sorted out, but it kind of reminded me of queues in Japan, where you wait leisurely around, talking and laughing, until something budges. I even saw a couple of people from my old schoolbus (!), whom I had not met with for around 10 years (I don't think they recognized me, but oh well...).

The siblings during a family celebration.

At any rate, as any of you who watch international cinema news (or simply, Greek news) know, "Dogtooth" won the award for the category "Un Certain Regard" in Cannes, the Special Jury Award in Sarajevo, and lead actress Angelica Pappoulia the "Heart of Sarajevo" for Best Actress. The reason is very simple: it's a good movie and by Greek standards over the last decade, a phenomenal one. Actors Chris Passlis, Angelica Pappoulia and Mary Tsoni play the role of three siblings, children of the eccentric parents portrayed by Chris Stergioglou and Michelle Valley.

Angelica Pappoulia.

Chris Passalis.

Mary Tsoni.

The father has decided to restrict his children within the boundaries of his estate, home-school them and raise them with the moral principles and linguistic predilections he deems appropriate. Their only contact with the outside world is the periodic visits by a security guard, Christina, portrayed by Anna Kalaitzidou. They are to remain within the boundaries of the estate, cut-off from all external stimuli, "until such time as they are ready to leave". What time is that? Well, suffice to say that it has something to do with the movie's title but this is as far as I am willing to venture...

Michelle Valley as the mother, reposing.

Although I believe that it's a movie really worth watching (when it premieres, around the last week of October), I must warn you that it is not for the faint of heart. No - and let me stress this - it is NOT a splatter movie, but the things it depicts and the way it depicts them will gut the soft underbelly of your sensitivity (unless of course you are clinically insane) and that WILL hurt. It's not a one-rail psychological abuse either: it is also funny at the most opportune moment, with the mood alternating until the climax is reached. That way it manages to draw you in and devour you, all but defenseless. In the end, above and beyond all the things this movie is and does, it demands that you think, that you process and digest it, rather than just consume it as is.

The Unknown beyond the hedge.

If you prefer more conventional terms, the movie has great acting in extremely difficult roles, great direction and alluring photography. It is a treat for the thinking person and poison to the mindless movie-goer. That is not to say that you are not allowed to not like it, but that the verdict is not to be issued lightly.

I hope you enjoy it,

Speedgrapher


P.S. I am being intentionally vague as to any details and have posted no links to reviews and such for a good reason, so I advise you to go and see the movie without having watched even a single trailer or teaser. Trust me, small as they are, they DO spoil important things that should take you by surprise.

3 comments:

kyoshiro said...

Ayeee....
Latrevw Thimio Bakataki with his just amazing Photography...
And yeahh finaly a good Greek movie in Cannes hahah
Thank you for Bloggin this Speedy.

Speedgrapher said...

Do itashimashite, kanchou.

Mai said...

πολυ καλη ταινια ηταν...την ειδα την κυριακη και μου αρεσε παρα πολυ..