KYNODONTAS || 2009, Greece || Thriller || Directed by – Yorgos Lanthimos / Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou / Produced by – Iraklis Mavroidis, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Yorgos Tsourianis, Yorgos Lanthimos, Angelos Venetis / Cinematography – Thimios Bakatatakis / Edited by – Yorgos Mavropsaridis / Starring – Christos Stergioglou, Michelle Valley, Angeliki Papoulia, Mary Tsoni, Christos Passalis / Running time: 97 mins.
A married couple succeeded in keeping their children ignorant of the outside world, locked within their huge property, well into their adulthood. This is the starting provocation of Dogtooth, which essentially revolves around the theme of family, in fact using it as a representation of an institution. This representation can even appear to be an allegory for a wider scope examination of society in general. Nevertheless, even when taken at surface level, its premise remains perversely captivating throughout its duration. This is widely thanks to director Yorgos Lanthimos and his impressively confident style.
Dogtooth is a compact feature, full of restrained energy, a quietness full of tension that feels like a volcano waiting to erupt. Occasional outbursts of energy, sometimes unwarranted, are dark, shocking and even violent, leading to unexpected developments that reveal a narrative’s tortuous underlying psychology.
Its composition is near perfect. Keeping the viewer at a purposeful distance, to add that non-judgemental (or matter-of-fact) edge, Thimios Bakatatakis’ cinematography is still and wide and takes advantage of the huge enveloping architecture in which the story takes place – a monumental and expansive mansion, which is in fact the leading siblings’ entire world – and gives the set-up a sense of timelessness, wealth and depravation. This particular style also flatters the contrast of seriousness and satire in its tone, therefore making it simultanously a bleak drama and, strangely, a deadpan comedy. This mixture, in turn, is another evidence of Dogtooth‘s provocation.
Made for a quarter of a million, Dogtooth made history by becoming the first Greek film to be entered in the main competition of the Cannes Film Festival in a decade, by earning an Academy Award nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category, and for introducing the world to a fascinating new voice in world cinema, embodied by Yorgos Lanthimos.” – 4/5