Dogtooth (2009): Quick-shot review!

MV5BMjIyOTkyMDE5N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjIwNzQwMw@@._V1__SX640_SY720_Dogtooth, or Kynodontas (2009), is a Greek language drama film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. It focuses on a very strange family where the father and mother choose to keep their children ignorant of the outside world, even as they grow into adulthood. The father goes to great lengths to ensure that his children never learn about the world outside, but is it possible to keep them ignorant forever?

This film is gripping from the very beginning. It starts with a lesson on tape: the children are practicing their vocabulary for different objects. ‘Shotgun’ means ‘beautiful white bird’. ‘Sea’ means ‘chair’. This opening scene is the perfect setup to a film that bends and boggles the mind; its manipulative use of language is just the beginning. Dogtooth is shot beautifully, and the cinematography is so impressive. Throughout the whole film, even though it is visually stunning, there is a sinister undercurrent that becomes more and more palpable as the plot progresses.

Credit must be given to the actors who play the older sister, younger sister, and the brother. Even though they are clearly adults, their portrayal of child-like people who are ignorant of the outside world is very believable. Particularly the brother character, whose fear in response to outside noises in the nighttime looks perfectly childlike, despite the fact that he is clearly in his mid-twenties or thereabouts. The fact that these characters are essentially children in adult bodies makes the sex scenes and violent moments so much more disturbing. However, even though the sex and violence is extremely graphic, it does not seem gratuitous.

Over the course of the film, we watch as the children learn words, compete in various competitions, and we watch almost clinically during their sexual experiences. But we’re never told the significance of any of these; why the parents teach their children a new vocabulary, why the children must compete with one another, why the sexual experiences are arranged by the parents, why they are kept inside the property in the first place. In order to watch this film, you need to have a healthy tolerance for ambiguity, and you almost have to make your own meaning. The answers for this film are not within this film.

I’m definitely interested in seeing more from this director. Dogtooth is one of those films where you just need to sit and think about it for half an hour after the credits have finished rolling. The film is consistently strange, and very dark. After reading a little bit about it, it looks like it was marketed as a comedy, which absolutely does not fit with the tone of the film; even though there are some funny moments. Overall, this is an extremely uncomfortable film that will lead you to consider your own freedoms.

4/5
Watch the trailer here.

Watch this film at Amazon!

26 comments

  1. Sounds interesting. I’ll check it out.

    Thanks for the suggestion!

    1. You’re welcome, I’d definitely be interested to hear your view on it. It’s a strange one!

  2. Your film collection must be something quite wonderful

    1. My collection is pretty great, but I borrowed this one from a friend whose collection I regularly plunder and is way more wonderful than mine!

  3. what is a quick sot review? Does that mean it is short? or is it something to do with shooting?

    1. It just means it’s a shorter review than usual. 🙂

      1. HA I thought so, I have a fever so am a bit weirder than usual 🙂

        1. Haha! Get yourself a nice cup of tea!

  4. I liked this one as well, I’m also interested in Alps (the film Yorgos directed next). Have you seen it?

    1. I haven’t seen Alps, but I’m interested to see that one as well! And his other one, Attenburg. I’m really intrigued by his style!

  5. I’ve heard about Dogtooth but never seen it. I’m still undecided. As I’m getting older I seem to be avoiding weird films for some reason?!

    1. Maybe you’ve hit your quota of weird films, or you’ve just become tired of them?

      1. I think I’ve just hit that age, now being a dad etc that I’m less demanding and am happy to watch other stuff. Although my favourite type of film is still ‘quirky indie’ so it’s not game over just yet.

  6. huh sounds weird! and from your description, it reminds me a little bit of “Lars and the Real Girl”

    1. It is quite weird! I’ve never seen Lars and the Real Girl but have always meant to! (And not just for the general attractiveness of Ryan Gosling.)

      1. Well he doesn’t look so good in that movie but his acting is superb

  7. I’ve never heard of this movie but the premise sounds very interesting. I just looked it up on Netflix and am happy to see that it’s available on streaming. Can’t wait to give it a try.

    1. Get ready for a really strange and disturbing film! Definitely worth a watch though – would love to know what you think. 🙂

  8. Nice review Anna. Pretty messed-up movie, but there are some very interesting ideas surrounding this that keep it going. Still surprised this even got a nomination for an Oscar.

    1. Thanks! 🙂 The ideas behind this film are so interesting. I love the fact that there are multiple interpretations of the story as a whole. I’ve read reviews where people have taken it as political commentary, as a religious parable a la Adam and Eve, and other crazy stuff. I love it when a film inspires people to think beyond the outer layer.

  9. I’ve been finding more movie blogs through various guest appearances at “Cinema Parrot Disco” (https://table9mutant.wordpress.com/ for the win) and like to review films I’ve seen myself. I reviewed Dogtooth as well a few years ago and agree with your points. Your review provides some insights and I hope mine will do the same for you: http://jayceland.com/blog/archive/2010/08/14/dogtooth-at-the-dryden/ .

    1. My bad: it was on Cara’s “Resolutions” series at “Silver Screen Serenade” (https://caragaleblog.wordpress.com/ for the win, not the [sic]).

    2. Thanks so much for stopping past! Loved your write-up on this strange and unique film.

  10. […] first became acquainted with director Yorgos Lanthimos through Dogtooth (2009) – a thoroughly unsettling and uncomfortable, yet mystifying and intriguing […]

  11. […] or Alpeis, with a deep appreciation for the films of director Yorgos Lanthimos. I was fascinated by Dogtooth (2009), I fell in love with The Lobster (2015), and I was completely entranced by The Killing of a […]

  12. […] was no different. It was a strange, wild ride. I’ve also loved his previous films such as Dogtooth (2009), Alps (2011), and The Lobster (2015). This film was a very worthy addition to a very […]

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