Sunday, September 11, 2011

Oh, In the Name of God! Now I Know What It Feels Like to Be God!

96. Dogtooth (Giorgos Lanthimos, 2009)

Giorgos Lanthimos' bizarre film serves as a good follow-up to my last post, the biopic Control, because one of its primary themes is indeed control. This strange Greek film follows a family, mother and father with their three children, two girls and a boy. There are references to another son though we never see him on screen and due to the nature of the film we are never certain of the truth behind his existence. This makes more sense when the rest of the movie is explained. The family's father has isolated his children from the outside world and their days are spent mostly learning a twisted language from their father on recorded tapes where the meaning of each word is switched around or competing with each other through "lessons" given to them by their father. It's never certain whether they actually have another brother because their father isn't the most trustworthy source of information.

At first glance Dogtooth is an unsettling exercise in abuse, both psychological and physical yet at times dark patches of intended humor can even be seen sprouted throughout. There are many discussions that could arise from those who find it a commentary on politics, to the illusions of the ideals of the perfect nuclear family, to religious implications and the notion of an imperfect god. Maybe none of these are correct or maybe they all are and more, though I find a movie that raises many questions at the very least interesting even if it doesn't always give answers to those questions.

Perhaps at the least Dogtooth is an interesting conversation piece, personally I think it's a film about a man attempting to exert control over any part of the world he can, though ultimately struggling with it and in the end failing all together. The house and yard which inclose the family almost become its own world with its unique logical rules constructed by the family's father. Though in the end, like the outside world, a man's control is forever fleeting even in a world he has seemingly created.

Films from 2009 on List:

Dogtooth (Giorgos Lanthimos)
Mother (Joon-ho Bong)
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog)

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