Weird can be good. As in some David Lynch movies. Or when Lars von Trier goes on an angry rampage. Or when David Cronenberg films … whatever the hell it is that David Cronenberg films.
But weird can also be frustrating. As in, “I don’t understand this story, and it doesn’t seem as though the director does, either.” Greek filmmaker Giorgos Lanthimos might grasp the meaning of his quirky drama Dogtooth quite well, but its lack of plot and back story make it the kind of film you might enjoy once, but probably not twice.
Here’s what we do learn in Lanthimos’ story: An unorthodox (to put it mildly) family of five lives in an isolated yet comfortable home. Father rules with an iron fist, mother enables father, and the three kids – two teenage girls and their brother – are not allowed contact with the outside world – ever. Mom and dad “home-school” the kids, keeping them in line by feeding them an endless supply of elaborate fantasies, buttressed by the harsh reality that father does not spare the rod.
I suppose this dysfunctional clan is meant as an allegory of the modern family, or as a commentary on some warped aspect of Greek society, but it doesn’t really matter because all we really care about is this: What manner of weirdness will we witness next from these odd, odd people?
There is a certain perverse enjoyment in watching them. How will they celebrate the parents’ anniversary? When the sisters begin sexual relations with each other, how long before their brother joins in? Who is easier to train, the family dog or the kids? Dogtooth is never dull.
Lanthimos has said he didn’t want to overly explain things to the audience with this movie. That’s fine, but was there anything to explain? Grade: B-
Director: Giorgos Lanthimos Cast: Christos Stergioglou, Michele Valley, Aggeliki Papoulia, Mary Tsoni, Hristos Passalis, Anna Kalaitzidou, Alexander Voulgaris Release: 2009
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