This is about as dark and as twisted a film as you’ll see—yet its strange allure is undeniable.
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Cardiologist Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) has formed a strange relationship with a teenage boy, Martin (Barry Keoghan). He buys him an expensive watch, and invites him home to meet his wife (Nicole Kidman) and children.
All seems peculiar but well, with Martin forming an immediate attachment with Steven’s family. In particular, his teenage daughter.
It turns out that Martin and Steven have history. Several years ago, Martin’s father was operated on by Steven, and he didn’t survive. Now, Martin feels it’s time to even the ledger, giving Steven a limited amount of time to decide who of his own family—his wife and his two children—Steven is willing to lose so that all can be square.
As his children fall sick, and no medical assistance seems to be able to stop their demise, Steven is left with no choice but to make one.
Yorgos Lanthimos likes to play with the absurd. His fascination with placing his characters in the most extreme situations, all while maintaining an emotional detachment, is quickly becoming his calling card.
In his previous film The Lobster, this quirky approach focussed on attraction and partnership. In The Killing of the Sacred Deer, it’s testing how willing the audience is to undertake this exploration when dealing with the typical ‘no-go’ zone of black humour—the murder of children.
It’s all kinds of wrong, and yet it’s compelling, dark, and at times disturbingly funny. If you liked The Lobster, The Killing of the Sacred Deer will deliver a wonderful new serving of this black humour.
Lanthimos has been compared to Kubrick, but I feel his films (while similar in mood and look) attack the question of what it is to be human quite differently. By keeping his characters monotone and their responses metered, the abnormality of their normalness creates a space where behaviour is forcibly questioned.
Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell are equalled only by the performances of the film’s young stars, in this strange, twisted and interesting tale. It’s not going to be a film to many people’s tastes, but if you like your character explorations dark, and enjoy a little meddling with normal emotions, this could be the film for you.
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Stars: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan
Runtime: 2 hours, 1min
Release Date: 16 November
Reviewer Rating: 3.5/5