Oh Yorgos Lanthimos how I want to love you, but sadly I do not. Killing of a Sacred Deer is not a horribly executed film, nor does it lack an interesting premise, so I understand if you did enjoy this film, and I’m certainly not attacking your opinion. You have ever right to like it but this movie for me was disappointing. Obviously, I’m not a fan because I’m a moron who just doesn’t understand the film or I don’t have an acquired taste for the weird which is why I like a more basic and unsophisticated director like Stanley Kubrick. Hear me out and we’ll see if that’s true.
I haven’t talked about The Lobster before, I’m not a fan of it either. I thought The Lobster is a film that might have been damaged by my hopes for the film. The Lobster in an interesting dark comedy satire that produces an interesting narrative on societal factors that dictate romance and relationships. It’s full of clever bits that metaphorically address many aspects of dating, being single, and connecting with other people. While the film certainly does produce a lot of things to consider, I never thought that the sum of its parts really amalgamated into anything. Scene after scene has rich interpretational value, but it never felt that it achieved an overall message to take away from the film, no underlining massage to connect it all together. Part of this unconcentrated effort is widely apparent when the film half way through decides it wants to be a different movie. The jump from being a movie about a dysfunctional dating service hotel with a ticking clock to find love into a story about a makeshift society that escapes an Orwellian dystopian to express individualization are two premises that I just wish were explored in full, rather than competing against one another. While it does present a juxtaposition of these two factions, it leaves both feeling unexplored to their potential, the tension in the woods is far less than that at the hotel and it feels the woods segment ends up being a larger portion than the film advertised. The performances are undeniable enjoyable, the script is well deserving of praise as really captures the influence of such an automated society with a bleakly artificial understanding of love having each character portray such a social ineptness. Over time I’ve slightly softened my stance on The Lobster, and always thought that I’d want to see the next Yorgos Lanthimos film, which is disappointing when I found out The Lobster is his better film.
Killing of a Sacred Deer
I really appreciated the dialogue in The Lobster, it made sense to me that the world they built would have such an awkward stilted heightened speaking, but why the hell have it in this movie? I thought in The Lobster it was a stylistic choice, but in this film I feel that Yorgos Lanthimos just can’t speak English, or emote, and enjoys talking about masturbation a little too much. If you wanted Martin (Barry Keoghan) to seem really odd and strange, wouldn’t it make sense that he would have a peculiar way of speaking to him. Or if you wanted Dr. Murphy (Colin Farrell) to seem to be a stoic kind of remorseless person that he talks with maybe that kind of tone but everyone in every situation sounds like they have a brain tumor. They don’t even try to make Dr. Murphy seem like a cold robotic person as it has fits of anger and grief. It just seems like a Wes Anderson sort of this is my style and it doesn’t matter this is what the characters in my movie talk like. It really adds nothing besides to be stylistically pervasive. The score didn’t work for me, I just felt instead of having a real mood enhancer they just did loud noise means something bad gonna happen oh no. The cinematography is sort of obnoxious it’s either typical A24 aesthetic, dolly/zoom in, or the characters are ten feet away. The distance of the shots and lack of variety never really puts you in the environment but instead made me feel that I was seeing the travel brochure. The film is a great representation of a modern day Greek tragedy, with a lot of themes and interesting parallels between King Ramses and the plagues he suffered, but both in presentation and the characters make it apparent that the film comes across as so lifeless. Killing of a Sacred Deer is an intelligent film, but incredibly hollow when it comes to emotion or entertainment.
Short Spoiler Point:
So, The Lobster is a dark comedy, but Killing of a Sacred Deer hasn’t really been labeled as such, but the ending of this film is hilarious. Was I suppose to feel tension when he decided to play redneck russian roulette spinning in a circle and shooting the first person he hit? Was I suppose that his care that his child who was just a vehicle to give dialogue written by an A.I. bot died? Was I supposed to be sad that he died because he’s a child? All he did the whole movie was talk about his dad’s body hair, have the most nonchalant reaction to waking up paralyzed, and got a haircut? It’s also hard when you bank on childhood innocence alone to garner sympathy with such a childish name like Bob. I understand it’s an adaption of a tragedy but when you don’t feel the crushing loss the character suffers, and the characters fatal flaw is ill-defined it creates a great dissonance between what was tried and what was actually achieved.
What it Feels Like to Watch Killing of a Sacred Deer?
Awkward dialogue, unnerving tone, and something to be interpreted if I had to summarize Yorgos Lanthimos into a completely unrelated random video I’d say that if you enjoyed this (Strangely I do) than you might enjoy a Lanthimos film:
I don’t know, I usually find myself to be someone who enjoys provoking and strange films whether it be Kubrick or Lynch, Nocturnal Animals, and even experimental auteur stuff like La Jetée or Blow Up but something about Lanthimos’ films just seem uninviting and dull despite there being something there. I wouldn’t necessarily call Lanthimos bad, but I can’t help but again feel off-put by his filmmaking decisions. I’m sure many of you do enjoy both films and that’s cool maybe feel free to enlighten me on why you enjoy Lanthimos, I’m definitely interested to know the appeal. That said, hope I articulated myself well enough, and that you’re not boiling over with my disparaging position. That said, have a good one and I’ll see you at the movies.