Film – The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Barry Keoghan
Genre: The deer is innocent

Films that divide the critics are nearly always worth watching, if for no other reason than you have something to talk about around the water cooler. The Killing of a Sacred Deer has split critics into two camps: those that loathe it and those that find it interesting. Admittedly, no one loves it.

9.3 Killing

“Wankfest” is the best line I’ve heard from those in the former camp, and it’s true that there are large dollops of Kubrick-like style and little substance in the early part of the film. The characters express no emotions and have no filters. There’s no “umming” and “erring” as in normal conversation, indeed there is no normal conversation, just minutiae.

It’s a slow burn, but gradually the life of the “normal” American nuclear family starts to unravel. There’s a creepiness about every character, from the surgeon whose drinking has led to a patient’s death, the son of that patient with whom he now has a bizarre relationship, the patient’s wife desperate to be loved, and the surgeon’s wife who’ll do anything to maintain the status quo. As the tension builds, so do the emotions, until they explode.

Throw in disturbing concepts such as sex versus death, whether torture is justifiable and the value of one person’s life compared to another. Combine them with some supernatural goings on, and you have a recipe for a tragic thriller, which makes sense given the classical Greek origins of the film’s plot (Iphigenia in Aulis by Euripides, if you really need to know) and its title.

And as for Nicole Kidman, hers is the standout performance, pulling off (literally in one scene) a difficult role under some very particular direction.

Rating: Three dilemmas

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