In this Oscar-nominated Greek drama, siblings who grow up cut off from the world — homeschooled and reliant on one another for entertainment — create their own idyllic alternative universe, which is shattered when their father lets in an outsider. Sex enters the picture when dad begins bringing home a female security officer to satisfy his son’s libido … and suddenly nothing is the same within the highly idiosyncratic family unit.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Disclaimer: I am by no means recommending this film as much as I’m grading it. Be warned that the film contains a lot of material that most people will be disgusted by, including animal cruelty, human cruelty, incest, and what appears to be actual sex.
Now that I got that out of the way, let’s move on to the review. I haven’t made up my mind whether Dogtooth is brilliant or brilliantly disgusting but it sure is an original piece of work. The camerawork, much like the characters in the film, is completely off and it’s done on purpose to great effect. Angles are sometimes shot where you can’t see people’s faces or it focuses on the inaction instead of the direct action of the characters. This approach works. These people live in their own world where up could be down, right could be left, or, as in the case of one character, a zombie can be a beautiful flower.
The challenging part as a viewer is trying to understand why the parents would choose to have their children grow up this way. We’re never really given a reason as to why they’ve isolated them. Is it because they fear the world’s influence over their kids? Is it because the father has an obsession with control? Or, is it that they fear their children will leave them behind? I do know that the decisions they make to keep them within the confines of their home is unbelievably upsetting. Early in the film, the father makes a decision that the son needs a sexual partner. I’m assuming he is concerned that his son’s desire for a mate will lead him to leave. So, what does he do? He hires a woman who works security to provide sex for cash. When her influence starts to create unrest among his three kids, he decides that no outsider can be brought in again. But, his son still needs a partner. You can fill in the blanks I’m sure (He has two daughters). At this point, you’re probably wondering what enjoyment can be found in experiencing a film that is this dark. Well, it asks a lot of questions about human beings that I found interesting. What kind of climate would this type of isolation create? When would one of them rebel against their parents and why? The storytelling is top notch despite the controversial material. I can also say the ending is satisfying and fitting. It’s just a tough 90 minutes to get there.