LFF Preview - The Killing Of A Sacred Deer
Dir: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Alicia Silverstone, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic, Bill Camp
Lanthimos’ follow up to The Lobster starts with the same formalism of that film, all restrained shots and almost emotionless delivery of arch, often deliberately funny dialogue. It’s a stylistic device that is designed to unnerve – Colin Farrell’s heart surgeon has a picture-perfect family at home but has developed some kind of relationship with what we come to learn is the son of a former patient (who didn’t make it) Keoghan’s Martin. But the formality of the director’s removed style refuses to let us understand the nature of this relationship. Is it concern? Is it grief? Guilt, perhaps? Maybe even of a sexually predatory nature? Clearly the filmmaker wants to keep us on our toes, especially when Doctor Farrell takes the 16 year old boy home to meet the family, a teenage girl who just got her period (everyone’s talking about it), a young boy who won’t cut his hair, and his wife Kidman, who dresses up in lingerie and delivers her body to her husband as if under “general anaesthetic.” It’s all very dry, it’s all rather absurdist and it’s all rather amusing.
Up to that point. And then Lanthinos takes his established antiseptic approach and moves into the territory of a deeply unnerving horror movie (albeit one that is still shot through with a very dark seam of black comedy.) Martin blames surgeon Farrell for the death of his father and now declares that he must kill one of his own family to compensate for the teenager’s own paternal loss. Magically he appears to enact some curse that renders first the doctor’s son, then his daughter inexplicably paralysed. And there is more to follow.
And what follows exactly is sort of a descent into madness, for all concerned. It’s to the director’s testament, that The Killing of A Sacred Deer never loses its sense of abstraction as it becomes more extreme. As a filmmaker, Lanthimos remains almost removed as he ramps up the undeniable tension. The cast is note perfect, with Farrell particularly affecting despite the fact he delivers his entire performance in little more than an unrelenting monotone, whilst newcomer Keoghan is superb throughout.
Lanthimos’ movie is at once removed, chilled and distant. But also remarkably moving in the very lowest of keys. And it builds to a climax that is both absurdist and hugely disturbing. And far more consistent than The Lobster.
(N.B. No deers were killed in the making of this movie - as far as we know.)
The Sacred Deer gets Killed at the LFF on the 12th, 13th & 15 of October - https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/lff
Then opens from November 3
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