Friday, March 4, 2011


Most movies I find entertaining are hard to recommend to, say, my mother. Dogtooth is admirable and original in almost every way, but oddly enough, it is incredibly difficult to recommend to almost anybody. Also, it is difficult to discuss without spoiling and ruining the first-viewing experience for a potential viewer. To get the best experience out of this one, it is best to dive into it without knowing what lies ahead. Because of this, I will do my best to keep this review short and sweet. 

Dogtooth is a Greek dark-comedy directed in 2009 by Yorgos Lanthimos, and was recently nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language film (although In a Better World stole the prize). To put it brief, a sadistic couple is raising their kids entirely isolated and compounded in their home, with no touch with the outside world. They have never met any other living being besides their parents, and whoever the Father brings into their home to deliver the sexual needs of the son. They are raised to believe things that are completely immoral and unethical, and are generally just outrageous lies. What's even stranger is these "kids" aren't really kids anymore, they are probably in their early twenties. But they have the mentality of 8 year-olds. As an audience, we jump into this disturbing home and get a fly-on-the-wall perspective of all the absurdity.

While the film is obviously meant to be satirical and humorous, it is difficult to see the line between funny and simply disturbing. After all, the entire film is about watching these two people mentally corrupt and psychologically (and sometime physically) damage their own kids. The things these kids do to keep themselves entertained at all hours of the day is immorally incomprehensible, as well as the things they "learn", like the dangers of coming across a ferocious house cat (as seen in the trailer posted below.)

But it is hard to hold in laughter at times, like watching the Father intentionally falsely translate and butcher a Frank Sinatra song for the oblivious family, who are thoroughly enjoying it. Just the ridiculous lengths and steps the parents take to convince their kids of such lies, specifically the Father, is clearly insane, but at times hilarious and pitiful. What is also worthwhile of Dogtooth is Lanthimos doesn't treat its audience like idiots. There is no exposition or set-up to explain anything that is happening, and it is up to you to put the pieces together yourself, and that is half the fun of watching. There were several occasions where I would see something or hear a line of dialogue that made absolutely no sense at the time, but would pick up on it later in the film. 

Dogtooth is clearly a satirical take on the effects of raising children, and the impact parents have on their everyday mentality. If the appropriate conditions were acquired, a parent could get a child to believe absolutely anything, regardless of how laughable or irrational, and the parents in this film have quite the imagination. But it is an unsettling thought that every little thing we share with our children will be carried with them for the rest of their lives, both the good and the bad.