By Jacob Mello (Austin, TX, US)

 

· When the behavior of a teen he’s taken under his wing turns sinister, a surgeon is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice.
· Written By: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou – The Lobster, Dogtooth.
· Directed By: Yorgos Lanthimos.
· Starring: Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Alicia Silverstone.

As a man of the people: This “movie” is a snooze-fest. Artsy-fartsy bullshit. At one point the lead opens up to his son about jacking off his father while he slept, out of curiosity, when he was his son’s age. ‘nough said.

As a true lover of the artform of film: I really respected what this film was, and am indebted to the author for taking the risk.

Look, this one absolutely isn’t for everyone. It’s almost rude in it’s unwillingness to meet the audience halfway, and if you’re just looking for a much-needed escape for a couple hours, you’re going to hate this. In fact, I (to my knowledge) was the only person in the showing who walked away pleased; so, I really can’t recommend this in good conscience.

If, on the other hand, you’re a film snob looking to be instigated, I can’t recommend this enough!
To say nothing of the story, the framing, color palette and camera movement were nothing short of brilliant. The cast wasn’t afraid to follow the director into the depths and because of that, every shot was bursting with next level nuance.

I might see this film again; definitely not more than once. But I think it’s an important film. Yes, important. It accomplishes, or at the very least – and in this day and age, this is a true rarity – attempts honesty. Not in that test poll way of ‘being honest about this scores really well right now.’ But in an unapologetic, ‘this is how I see it. We can compare notes some other time’ kind of way that the art form was built on and has been desperately lacking as of late.

This picture is essentially a “trolley problem.” An ethical dilemma that makes for a psychological drama of the highest order. The writer/director refuses to bother himself with constructs, pleading the fifth on anything to do with culture or society. This film is about barebones human nature and animalistic impulses and choices. It’s like taking a camping trip after an extended holiday season. Anything without a price tag comes off as eerie and you can’t put your finger on why.

The dialogue rings clunky and foreign at first, but it’s only after taking a step back that you realize this is simply because it’s completely striped of subtext or sarcasm or any of the multitudes of linguistic camouflage and veiled speech we’ve developed to clothe our raw desires. This isn’t a film about how to “get away” with anything, or how best to be perceived. It’s about the depths of humanity. When you strip away the ethical babysitter, when the cameras are off – who the hell are you?

In a weird way, this may be the most honest look at humanity I’ve seen in a long time. With this film, the director managed to capture us as we were inside the food chain, so to speak. Free of our artifice. I know most people will hate this one, and worse, most of the people who claim to love it won’t even really understand it, but that’s the way it goes with these ones.

PRESCRIPTION:

For another current artist moving in this direction: Jonathan Glazer – Birth, Under the Skin.

Rating: 4/5

 

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