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‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ (review)

Produced by Ed Guiney, Yorgos Lanthimos
Written by Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman,
Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy,
Sunny Suljic, Alicia Silverstone, Bill Camp

 

There’s little that’s creepier than perfection.

Teeth that are blindingly white, a house with nary a napkin out of place, a garden without a single blade of grass moving the wrong direction.

But this is the kind of family that director Yorgos Lanthimos puts forth to be tormented in a cruel way by a capricious teen who believes thoroughly in justice being served a way that balances the equation.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is part horror, part thriller, and a large helping of the suspension of disbelief.

A talented cardiac surgeon (Colin Farrell) seems to have the perfect life. He has a beautiful wife (Nicole Kidman) who is also a ophthalmologist and two lovely children. When the son of a deceased patient starts becoming close to the family, the balance of power becomes horrifically skewed.

This film was somewhat disturbing on many different levels, from teenage smoking to infidelity to murder. Throughout the many strange scenes, the cast speaks with the same lack of emotion that the director used comically in The Lobster. There is something wooden and plastic about the entire family that, as the movie goes on, does not warm up under pressure so much as this stoicism freezes up and splinters apart.

When his family suddenly becomes ill, Steven starts to become unhinged as it is clear that the cause is not physical or can be explained in the scientific Manor. Watching Colin Farrell move from the easy and kind doctor success story into a man beside himself with grief, guilt and indecision is engrossing. His turns as a serious actor are becoming more and more enjoyable as his career matures.

Though all the performances are excellent, the standout star this movie is definitely Barry Keoghan. In a complete departure from the sweet and sensitive character he plays in this year’s Dunkirk, he is a dark, calm, and intense villain. With an endless stare he commands even the scenes he shares with powerhouses Kidman and Farrell. Each star turns in a better performance than their recent pairing in The Beguiled. Here it is actually the lack of chemistry that does so much for the progression of the story. To see how each of them breaks down separate from their spouse gives more weight to the idea that guilt is a different burden on each family member.

This is not the movie to see if you want to be uplifted. This is the movie to see if you want to remind yourself that there is a darkness inside of humans and a need for settling of scores rather than moving past them in reconciliation.

If you find your faith in humanity becoming too high, your nearest screening of The Killing of a Sacred Deer will do much to remind you of the wickedness in our hearts.

 

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