Title: Dogtooth (Greek: Kynodontas)
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Screenwriters: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou
Casts: Christos Stergioglou, Michele Valley, Aggeliki Papoulia, Hristos Passalis, Mary Tsoni, Anna Kalaitzidou
IMDb Rating: 7.2
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%
Where should I begin with? If I had to call forth, I would say that Dogtooth is the thing—and it’s Greek! It’s been too long since the last time I locked myself in the room sitting on my own in front of the laptop watching a film. And by going side by side with the vibe, this film has got me startled. I didn’t care how I was so much about to stop the film halfway through as how bizarre this film is to me and all I got was: “The crap?”. My curiosity won it all, and I just wanted to know what the hell was happening. So, yeah, I finished it at last and I regret nothing.
Dogtooth tells about a family of: a sinister father, an oppressed-looking mother, and three awkward young adult children (two daughters and a son)—they aren’t exposed to their own names. The thing is, they might look ‘normal’ as most families look from the outside, but the fact is even way more disturbing than it seems.
Living in a ‘friendly-looking’ compound with a nice garden and a swimming pool, the children are never allowed to go out ever since they were born. There are no facilities given to provide them having contact with the world outside. The father tells them that they can leave the house once they lose their canine tooth, meaning that they can finally face dangers. No telephone, nothing to watch—except the home video of the family, playing activities they regularly do in the house. All the siblings do is playing around and doing some kind of unusual game to help them spend times.
Everyday, the children have this kind of ‘homeschooling’: learning new vocabulary through a tape recorder. Shockingly, the collection of words given have deviated meanings from what they actually mean, such as: “sea” means leather chair with wooden armrests, “highway” means very strong wind, “shotgun” means beautiful white bird, and so on. The violent parents also teach them the same: “telephone” means salt, “cunt” means lamp, “zombie” means a yellow little flower, etc.
No one has ever gone to the house, except a young woman worked as a security in the father’s office, named Christina—she’s the key character who affects the stability of this home. She is payed to give sexual favours to the son in order to deaden his urges. The parents also tell them that they have a brother living outside the high wooden fence of the compound, and of course, he never appears.
The actual reason why the parents isolate their children and tell lies cannot be clearly found during the film. It is only implied that the father—it can be seen that the mother is also bound to be under his control—does not want them to get any harm and that he convinces the children that the things out there are bad influences for them. Christina herself, finally, ‘becomes’ the bad influence for the children which then stops her from visiting the house and causes the elder daughter to replace her to do the intercourse with the brother—it is also under the father’s order, of course. Shocking?
Perhaps, to some viewers, Dogtooth is nothing but a very surreal, unpleasant film—I’ve seen some negative comments about it posted on several film websites. At first, I thought of the same thing, too. But there’s more to it!
Wouldn’t you think that the image of the father controlling his family including doing some ‘brainwashing’ is similar to what is happening today in our society? Government could be the father, sadly, and the system might be tying us up, not allowing us to have some insights on our own. I don’t know about you, but that’s something what I think about after watching this superb piece of work. Perhaps you will form different perceptions, let me know when you have watched it!
Among the three of the siblings, maybe the one who ‘almost’ can make it to be out of the prison is the elder daughter. The “I’ve had enough” emotional state of her is illustrated as she performs a ‘dance’ in a manner of trying to show how dejected she is. As she can’t take it anymore, she then cracks her canine tooth. What happens next? No, not about her being all bloody and frightful.
Beyond the messages conveyed, another thing that I adore is the way the actors act—finding out that Aggeliki Papoulia, the elder daughter, is a graduate of theatre school got me no need to wonder why. Hat’s off! So natural, with no dramatic background sounds for every scene shown—which leads to the impression of ‘the family is actually doing it in the real life’. Any conversation that points out native behaviours caused by the unnatural domestic shape is comical and thoughtful. More hats to be off to Yorgos Lanthimos. One hour and thirty minutes, I hope it will be worth it to you, just as much as it was to me![*]
P.S. The only thing I despise out of this film is the scenes that display animal cruelty. Yes, it’s the cat, also a dog. 🙁