Monday, December 2, 2013

Dogtooth (2009)

Director – Giorgos Lanthimos
Writers – Giorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou
Production Company – Boo Productions, Greek Film Center, Horsefly Productions
Stars – Christos Stergiolou, Aggeliki Papoulia

Dogtooth isn’t quite a horror film, it’s an artsy little flick.  I had this thrown on my radar due to my extensive searching for offbeat and disturbing movies, I’m a weirdo what can I say!  Dogtooth is another one of those movies that looks great and had the subtle hand of an artist directing it, but I can’t say I really liked it.  For me Dogtooth lacked motivation for its characters, and so what they’re doing doesn’t really have any clear direction.  Without understanding the motivations for what people do, it’s hard to understand the situation in general or empathize.

Three teenagers/perhaps mid twenty kids (2 girls/1 boy) are confined to an isolated country home with their parents.  I’m guessing this is where they’ve been raised their whole lives, but this wasn’t fully explained.  They spend a lot of time learning from homemade tapes that teach them vocabulary.  This vocabulary isn’t run of the mill though, for some reason they are taught that certain words mean different things.  An example would be instead of calling a light bulb a light bulb, they are taught that it’s called a mouse etc.


This is one thing that isn’t properly explained.  If the kids are already confined to this home, scared to leave, and brainwashed – why is there a need to teach them this odd vocabulary, what purpose does it serve?  I suppose I could dig really deep and say perhaps the director what just using this as a metaphor to show us viewers the type of brainwashing that was going on, maybe it represents the total control the parents have by even changing words? But I just keep coming back to what purpose does it really serve if they know nothing of the outside world? The parents also subject them to games and tests, rewarding them with stickers.  I find this a little tough to swallow with young adults, sure kids are into stickers for a prizes but you would think young adults would be needing a bit more to keep in line. 

The parents, I really couldn’t get a grasp on them.  Like I said before we are presented with no motivation for the reasons they would keep their children away from the world.  The most obvious guess is the world is bad and they want to protect them, but this is never fully explained.  There are also a few really warped scenes with the husband and wife, so maybe they’re just crazy?  I’d love it if anyone could shed more light on them for me.

Another low point is that the kids seem like robots, I mean I realize they’ve been kept away and have no real experiences except inside this space but they lacked any emotion.  It’s not like they’re locked in a room all by themselves, they have each other.  I would have rather seen them chat and question their lives with each other.  I think I just expected more raw emotion from young adults, and this leads me to another strange part of the film.  One of the kids is a young male and the parents bring in a female outsider, Christina, to help him with his “urges”.  But the dang thing is - I never once see this kid have an “urge”, she just comes in every couple of days/weeks, has a little mechanical sex, and they’re done.  It would have been nice for the director to show the son acting out, and that sex was the logical answer that the parents came up with to help him.

Speaking of sex, and this is a super major spoiler -  At one point the outsider female (Christina) starts leaking information into the kid’s lives (random objects, words, etc.), so the dad squashes this and Christina is no longer welcomed in their home.  So what do these parents do now to help their son with his urges?  Well logically they let him choose between his two sisters who gets to take on that task, this is crazy if you think the parents are keeping them locked up for their safety, or to keep them pure or something – and why even bring in Christine to possibly spoil things if having your son sleep with his sister was an option in the first place.  This didn't make sense to me, but the parents are warped.  It would have just been nice to hear the parents discuss the issue, and how they came up with this as the answer.

In the end one of the sisters “Bruce” does manage to poke a few holes in her parent’s story with help from Christina, who provided her with a few video tapes.  This does result in one great scene where Bruce actually performs the iconic dance from Flashdance in front of her siblings and parents, I particularly liked this scene.  It really showed some acting out which I think was lacking throughout most of the flick, though does Bruce really know she’s acting out?  Maybe not, but it’s good to see something that would organically happen when someone who’s not been exposed to the outside world finally gets a taste. 

One of the last scenes involving Bruce is BRUTAL, and quite awesome – this is where I see what I’ve wanted to see the whole film!  This is not because I get to see something disturbing with my eyes, it’s because of the emotionally disturbing act erupting out of Bruce – this reaction from her makes sense!  Finally some emotion that makes perfect sense!

So again while the film is good technically, and the plot is interesting as a concept, I just couldn’t quite grasp why any of the characters were acting the way they were.  I couldn’t understand why the parents were confining their kids and I couldn’t understand why young adults wouldn’t question their parents more? 

I’m totally open to others interpretations! 

This is a movie I “almost” need to watch twice, but for right now I can’t get behind it.  I say Bravo for the effort, I can see the effort, I just couldn’t detect any real reasons for the characters actions. I feel I’ve run on about this movie, so it must have stirred up something, so overall inventive and easy on the eyes but just falls short for me.

No comments:

Post a Comment