9/3 – 9/9 At SFFS Screen In The Sundance Kabuki Cinemas: DOGTOOTH


A movie to completely arrest my mind and leave me speechless after the credits roll is a rarity. Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth is not some overblown cerebral snorefest too heady for its own good. It is a carefully crafted tragedy tackling issues of free-market trade, American culture, governmental suppression, absolute truth, and the frailty of words.

The basic premise of Dogtooth is centered on a family of five who we learn quite quickly, do not live normally. The patriarch and matriarch of the family control their college-age kids in mysterious and sadistic ways, keeping them trained never to leave the property. They engage in violent games of submission and family challenges in order to earn stickers as approval from the father. Slowly though, the eldest daughter begins to uncover things hidden by her parents and strives to escape the stronghold.

I’m sure a lot of other reviewers will talk about the satire of all these elements, but what really stuck out to me were the ideas of teaching wrong meanings of certain “harmful” words and challenges of right and wrong. I am fascinated at how fragile our language is – only carrying as much meaning as we learn and give. Why is a porcupine called a porcupine and not a branch? Is incest wrong if we’re never given any other alternative and have a basis for right and wrong? In the closed system that the parents create in their house, the kids are not taught morals. Are morals inherent or learned or a combination of both?

These kinds of questions flooded my mind after watching Dogtooth. It’s not necessarily a fulfilling movie and you won’t feel warm and fuzzy inside after watching it. It is a brutal and violent, beautiful and provocative experience that will raise far more questions than it answers. Dogtooth is hard to watch, but is sure to bring out some deep moral questions within everyone who takes the plunge.


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