Greek writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos obviously has some talent. He showed moments of brilliance in his disturbing films Dogtooth and The Lobster, but the problem is that his scripts are so flawed. None more so than his latest — The Killing of a Sacred Deer. It’s a shame that Lanthimos can give us a solid first 45 minutes of a film, then he goes off the rails. This dude is trying so hard to be David Lynch, Michael Haneke, or Stanley Kubrick, but he should start with baby steps. And really, at some point we have to step back and wonder what kind of disturbed person comes up with, and films, such disgusting crap. And again, I say that while also appreciating some of the scenes he does.
I can’t explain much of the plot without spoilers, so I’ll write what I can. Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell, still sporting his dad-bod from Lobster, but now with a beard) is a heart surgeon, and his wife Anna (Nicole Kidman, who recently tortured Farrell in Beguiled), is an optometrist. They have two kids that are normal. The boy doesn’t want to cut his hair or take out the trash. His older sister is starting to like boys, and her chores involve watering the plants.
Steven keeps meeting up with a teenage boy named Martin (Barry Keoghan of Dunkirk). You don’t know why, and it is interesting to see how that unfolds. It’s just a shame they couldn’t keep such an interesting premise. In the first hour, you’re interested in why this boy is always around, even as Murphy tries to distance himself from the kid. We’re also trying to figure out why he’s so weird.
One of the problems Lanthimos has is that he writes all his characters with the same voice. In an opening scene when we hear two doctors talk about waterproof watches in a droll tone, it’s interesting. We can picture smart doctors not being very good in social situations. Yet he ends up writing every character with similar tones. And really, once you learn more about Martin, he’s the only character that should be talking in a weird tone and with non-sequiturs. For example, the audience I saw it with laughed when Dr. Murphy is at a conference, and tells a colleague that his daughter recently started menstruating. It comes out of nowhere and makes no sense.
Aside from flaws in logic that most of the characters in this movie possess, there’s also a lack of sympathy for them. I’m sure that’s what Lanthimos wanted, but it makes it less interesting to watch if you don’t care what happens to any of these people. Even a movie like Fatal Attraction, in which Michael Douglas cheated on his wife with Glenn Close…we start rooting for him and feeling bad for his family early on.
There’s a sex scene that is mildly interesting and bizarre, but they blow that by doing a similar scene later in the movie. It’s as if Lanthimos wants to explore certain things — like how married couples might do things to spice up their sex lives, yet he doesn’t know how to properly do that. He probably watched Eyes Wide Shut (also with Nicole Kidman) and other Kubrick films, and that’s how he “learned” about human behavior.
The score for this was rather annoying. Often times, it was like a violin from Hell.
The only thing this movie had going for it was a great performance from Barry Keoghan.
This film had no coherence to it, and I can guarantee audiences will hate it. Of course, critics are going to praise this crap. It’s pretentious art-house garbage that they need to feel like they get, or that it’s important cinema.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer you will watch wishing…somebody would shoot you and put you out of your misery.
This gets 1 star out of 5.