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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Christos Stergioglou
Michelle Valley
Hristos Passalis.
Directors
Giorgos Lanthimos.
Screenwriters
Running Time
96 minutes

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Dogtooth
Well, it fills the gap before the inevitable Fritzl biopic...


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Plot
Behind the high walls of their family home, three siblings are convinced by their parents that the outside world is filled with death and danger. They spend their days in splendid isolation in a near-alternative universe where reality is kept at arm’s length by their father’s conniving machinations. That is, until he introduces co-worker Christina (Anna Kalaitzidou) into the disquieting mix.


Review
Dogtooth
Desperate to maintain what they perceive as their children’s innocence, the nameless Mother (Michelle Valley) and Father (a quietly terrifying Christos Stergioglou) confine their family to a plush but subjugated existence at home in the quiet Greek countryside, thereby stifling the brother and two sisters’ — teetering somewhere between their late teens and early twenties — emotional if not physical growth. Lessons learnt include: cats are predatory killers and the planes flying overhead are toys pinned to an otherwise empty sky. They’ve even created their own language; snippets gleaned from tapes provided by their Mother inform them uselessly that “a carbine” is “a beautiful white bird”.

To sate Son’s (Christos Passalis) desires, Father brings female security guard Christina (from the anonymous factory where he works) for perfunctory if eye-wateringly detailed sex. But it’s her introduction into the family’s inner-circle that allows the outside world in, muddying the clear waters of their stilled existence. In Lanthimos’ cruel utopia very little happens — Father and Mother inject colour into this pallid universe with stories of a terrifying life beyond their walls, while the ‘children’ dabble with anaesthetic and self-inflicted pain to fill their days. It sounds torturous, but the film is leavened with a dry sense of humour that flickers around and then sometimes engulfs the frame. Case in point: Father and Mother debating which lie to tell next as they idle naked with a hardcore porn flick wavering on the TV screen behind them. You’re not sure whether to gasp or giggle.

The suffocating atmosphere, cleverly constructed in a film that works with a lush, sun-washed garden and white interiors bathed in light, builds to Older Daughter’s terrible unravelling when real life rushes in like a flood breaching a dam, brother and sisters falling apart in spectacular fashion as Mother and Father impose their will on and around the family unit as surely as if it were made of steel.


Verdict
As harrowing as it is humorous, Giorgos Lanthimos’ award-winning journey to a family’s heart of darkness is unflinchingly detailed, thought-provoking fare.


Reviewed by Philip Wilding

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Dogtooth
Empire Star Rating

I have no idea what just happened.

I know sometimes 'crazy' doesn't need a reason, and that the isolated world is built up meticulously, but (for my money) Lanthimos spends too much time focusing on the 'how' and not even touching the 'why'. Dogtooth was made with real dedication, but ultimately wasn't made for me. Then again, this film wasn't made for most people. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheMightyBlackout at 23:58, 29 August 2013 | Report This Post


Heart-Stoppingly Visceral, Wonderfully Surreal

There are only so many ways you can applaud a motion picture like Dogtooth; it can become quite difficult to define what it is about such a film you find to be attractive, even enjoyable (in a strictly non-emotional sort of way). I have similar trouble when I recommend Eraserhead, struggling to find the right combination of words to describe what my eyes can just about comprehend. Dogtooth is a grimly humorous parable told in a nonlinear fashion and revolves around the daily life of a small fami... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 10:12, 15 February 2013 | Report This Post


Dogtooth

Dogtooth is the result of amazing filmaking at it's best. The film offers a perspective on life that no film (or any other medium) has ever offered before. The more disturbing scenes sometimes go a little too far, but it's message ties to the narrative in a way that works beautifully. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by norgizfox at 04:43, 10 June 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Simply brillant masterpiece.

I SOOOOOOOOOOO want to see this film!!! ... More

Posted by DaisyMorgan at 16:06, 25 October 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Simply brillant masterpiece.

Hey, I'll still enjoy it as the blackest of comedies. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 11:06, 22 October 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Simply brillant masterpiece.

L: Herr Schnitzel L: demoncleaner I know the world I want to live in. too know what world I want to live in. It's not yours. onsidering that God doesn't exist Herr Frtizl...me and God find that a pretty fatuous remark to make under the circumstances.  ... More

Posted by demoncleaner at 10:52, 22 October 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Simply brillant masterpiece.

L: demoncleaner I know the world I want to live in. too know what world I want to live in. It's not yours. ... More

Posted by Herr Schnitzel at 10:10, 22 October 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Simply brillant masterpiece.

double post ... More

Posted by Herr Schnitzel at 10:08, 22 October 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Simply brillant masterpiece.

L: Herr Schnitzel L: Deviation L: Herr Schnitzel I found this to be one of the most overrated films of the last few years. Initially intrigued, I started to lose patience half way through when no discernible plot kicks in. It's just an ever escalating freak show to gawk at and ely fairly pointlessmore artsploitation, desperate to get noticed. side for the part which deals with nurture and how one's education can form once perception of the world, which probably makes it the ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by demoncleaner at 03:29, 22 October 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Simply brillant masterpiece.

, having read quite a bit about similar real life cases, it didn't strike me as particularly psychologically acute. It felt all made up and therefore stuck me as somewhat exploitative. It reminded my of the 70s wacko cult film "The Baby", which was a similar "life is stranger than fiction, only this has never been life" type of film dealing with an adult whose development had been stunted by his family. I also saw the recent Greek film "Attenberg", which I found similarly disingenuous, by servi... More

Posted by Deviation at 13:39, 21 October 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Simply brillant masterpiece.

L: Deviation L: Herr Schnitzel I found this to be one of the most overrated films of the last few years. Initially intrigued, I started to lose patience half way through when no discernible plot kicks in. It's just an ever escalating freak show to gawk at and ely fairly pointlessmore artsploitation, desperate to get noticed. side for the part which deals with nurture and how one's education can form once perception of the world, which probably makes it the entire film. ... More

Posted by Herr Schnitzel at 09:32, 20 October 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Simply brillant masterpiece.

L: Herr Schnitzel I found this to be one of the most overrated films of the last few years. Initially intrigued, I started to lose patience half way through when no discernible plot kicks in. It's just an ever escalating freak show to gawk at and ely fairly pointlessmore artsploitation, desperate to get noticed. side for the part which deals with nurture and how one's education can form once perception of the world, which probably makes it the entire film. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 23:18, 19 October 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Simply brillant masterpiece.

I found this to be one of the most overrated films of the last few years. Initially intrigued, I started to lose patience half way through when no discernible plot kicks in. It's just an ever escalating freak show to gawk at and ultimately fairly pointless. Just more artsploitation, desperate to get noticed. ... More

Posted by Herr Schnitzel at 20:26, 19 October 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Simply brillant masterpiece.

L: ARmy2510 One of the greatest movies I've ever seen. Perfect from start to finish. I agree with this post...from start to finish. The Greeks are brilliant, wooden horses, gay sex, mid-level Eurovision entires, myth, the alphabet, lisps, kebabs, the human condition as we know it (through philosophy and that) gay sex, Harry Enfield stereotypes, islands, and....the evolved post-modenist black comedy that is happy34.gif] ... More

Posted by demoncleaner at 20:18, 16 October 2011 | Report This Post


Simply brillant masterpiece.

One of the greatest movies I've ever seen. Perfect from start to finish. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ARmy2510 at 01:31, 14 October 2011 | Report This Post


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