Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole Ashland
Markus Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Rated UR: This film is unrated for graphic nudity and excessive violence.
Warning: This film is not a comedy! Any of the semi humorous scenes in “Dogtooth” have a graphically dark undertone. This movie contains a few graphic scenes of nudity and violence that come on so quickly the audience will not have a chance to look away. This film also contains a violent scene with a cat. For some (animal huggers), the cat scene will be more upsetting than anything else in this film. If you cry during those SPCA commercials, then DO NOT watch this film! If you haven’t been scared off yet, here is my review of “Dogtooth”.
With one of the most inventive premises of 2010, “Dogtooth” will unfortunately turn out to be too disturbing to truly recommend to anybody, but hardcore lovers of film. Coming out of Greece, director Giorgos Lanthimos paints an abnormal picture of a family whose parents keep their grown children (seriously, the children are in their mid 30’s) isolated on an estate on a countryside in Greece. The house has a giant fence which surrounds it and the children are warned to never venture beyond the walls, for there are many fatal dangers in the world. Furthermore, they are told that they cannot leave the house until they reach maturity, where upon they would lose their second set of K-9 teeth (or dogteeth), which (just in case you don’t know) doesn’t happen naturally (at least not until you are in your 70’s).
This film only gets weirder as it progresses. Example: The parents don’t let their children (in their mid 30’s) watch any movies other than home movies, they teach the children (in their mid 30’s) words of the day but give them different meanings (ex: The Sea- definition: something you sit on that has four legs) and the children (in their mid 30’s) are made to participate in nonsensical contests in order to win stickers from their parents, essentially keeping the minds of these grown adults in a perpetual childlike state. Some of the scenes in “Dogtooth” are borderline painful to watch, but none are unnecessary to the story. That is to say, nothing is done simply for shock value. There is meaning behind it all.
Starting with the script, this film may seem simplistic, but is somewhat brilliant! Every word of the dialogue is meant to be analyzed and overanalyzed. This is a film that will say with you, long after you’ve turned it off, and left the room and go to work the next day.
The biggest issue I and many others will have with “Dogtooth”, violence aside, is that (Semi-Spoiler Alert) it is never explained why the parents do what they do. This may frustrate many into disregarding the rest of the film entirely. Also, where “Dogtooth” is trying to make a point about censorship by any authoritative powers (government, God or parents), it will inevitably be lost on many because of the disturbing sex scenes, ultra violent scenes and odd scenes which seem to go on for the entirety of this film. But, please don’t dismiss “Dogtooth” as just another weirdo foreign film where anything goes. This film does have a purpose. Furthermore, I truly believe, “Dogtooth” encompasses the direction modern filmmaking is headed. All and all, “Dogtooth may be the best thing to come out of Greece since musician Tommy Lee…oh, and Aristotle I guess.
Final Thought: For every person who walks out of this movie, or takes it as simply a disturbing case of child abuse, there will be a person who will think this film is brilliant (and both would be right). I recommend “Dogtooth” with reservations. This is a film where the more you allow it under your skin, the better it becomes (like a sort of extremely graphic “Twilight Zone”). If you love film, then this is a film worth seeking out on DVD, but if you are not into foreign films and wanted to get into the genre, it’s probably not a good idea to start with “Dogtooth”.