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The Auteurs Daily: Toronto. Dogtooth

The Auteurs Daily


Scott Weinberg: "Former Cinematical chief, close personal friend, and actual superhero James Rocchi said this when I asked him what I should see at Toronto this year: 'Dude,' (pause for dramatic effect; his, not mine) 'You must see a Greek film called Dogtooth. It won the Un Certain Regard Award at Cannes, it's unlike anything you've seen before, and it's amazingly twisted and weird.' That was all I needed to hear.... I'm pleased to note that Mr Rocchi's enthusiasm was well-founded and accurate: quite simply, I've never seen a film (anything at all) like Yorgros Lanthimos's Dogtooth."

"Lanthimos has delivered an unforgettable and disturbing film," writes James McNally. "Briefly stated, Dogtooth concerns a well-to-do Greek family, living in a large suburban house. The parents of three adult children have kept them confined to the house since birth, teaching them their own unique vocabulary (the 'sea' is a large armchair, the 'phone' is a salt shaker, 'zombies' are small yellow flowers, etc.). Though the children appear to be in their twenties, they are dressed like children and spend their days engaged in competitive games to gain the favour of their parents."

"On the surface, the film might feel like a timely if opportunistic riff on the public fascination with nightmarish captivity stories like the Jaycee Dugard and Elisabeth Fritzl cases," concedes Seth Abramovitch in Movieline. "But Lanthimos elevates the material far above the mere exploitative, constructing a uniquely surreal yet oddly believable alternate universe amidst that Lynchian jungle of menace, the suburban backyard. Much of that credit goes to the cast as well, who seem blindly devoted to executing Lanthimos's vision at any cost, whether that involves explicit sex acts (yes, you see an erection) or just the general, holy-sh*t-this-is-actually-happening cinematic insanity of a cold-blooded kittycide or deeply unhinged birthday party dance recital - both of which count as two of my favorite scenes in any film this year."

"Dogtooth echoes Antichrist in its gnawing tension between chaos and control," suggests Scott Tobias at the AV Club, "but the alternate reality it carves out is also funny as hell. And in the Glenn Beck era, when people are living in paranoid bubbles of their own making, the film's political resonances are unmistakable."

"Dogtooth creeps up on you," blogs Josef Braun, "and by its end presents us with a surprisingly resonant equation and an elegant final image. Lanthimos's style is detached, in keeping with the wryly anthropological nature of the whole premise, leaving the actors to really breathe life into the whole, which they do a truly remarkable job at, one deserving of some special ensemble award."

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