Film Review -The Killing Of A Sacred Deer (2017)

Following on from the success of ‘The Lobster,’ writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos takes arthouse cinema to a whole new level. It is proven that his new film ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ has garnered success at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival coveting the best screenplay award and collected the award with triumph. Furthermore, to have Colin Farrell star in his film for the second time, subsequently from ‘The Lobster’ also conveys that A-List actors have a fondness for his vision. From one’s subjective point of view, it is with regret to stipulate, that the best screenplay award is not deserved. It shy’s away from the conventional rules of dialogue, hence has some form of originality, nonetheless, the overload of phatic communication is what is pitiful about the film. In other words, useless dialogue that doesn’t advance the plot. Tarantino has a knack for doing this, but at least he can use his characters to talk about a foot massage in a cool manner. With ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer,’ the useless dialogue is dull and dreary. Yet it won the best screenplay?

The premise is intriguing: Steven, a charismatic surgeon, played by Colin Farrell is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart when the behaviour of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister. Creepily but brilliantly played by Barry Keoghan, who played a key role in ‘Dunkirk,’ he acts like a teenage ‘Damien Thorn’ who comes across as charming; charismatic, but spine-chilling. Moreover, Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman has a keenness for doing arthouse horror. (Stoker) To play Farrell’s wife, her character of Anna Murphy is sadly not her best performance as a mother, following from ‘Lion’ and now notably her Emmy Award win in ‘Big Little Lies,’ her performance in the HBO show, outshines her performance in ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ by a mile. Nonetheless, there’s a good reason which is excusable due to the direction.

Greek director, Yorgos Lanthimos has a clear vision. To make the actors have minimal emotion a calm tone 90% throughout the film is obvious. The requirement of emotionless acting is highly noticeable due to faceless expressions. Nonetheless, the Stanley Kubrick influences are apparent and the main merit of the film. ‘The Shining’ is an ultimate horror classic, that Lanthimos has borrowed the long Steadicam shots, the extreme wide shots and spine-chilling music effectively. However, ‘The Shining’ is not slow paced as every bit of dialogue advances the plot, whereas this film does the complete opposite.

Farrell and Kidman’s two on-screen children in the film are a true standout. The young boy Sunny Suljic plays the title role with great vulnerability. To see him cursed with a death like illness is performed very professionally regardless of him being a child. His on-screen sister is also played perfectly by rising star Raffey Cassidy. It must be noted we now live in a time where we have surpassed the over the political correctness of what a young teenage female actor can or can’t do on screen. The fact that she performs a scene where she attempts to fornicate with the lead villain, by stripping to her panties and bra, pushes the boundaries but in a brave way.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ is too slow paced for a mainstream audience. It takes a long time to structure and an audience needs some sort of ratification by the end. The ending will not suffice but more rather disappoint. The dilemma premise is a great idea, but not used wisely. Colin Farrell must kill either his wife, son or daughter. If not, they’ll all die. Who will it be is the question? Sadly, by the end, no one will care. One last note is to commend Alicia Silverstone for a fine and freaky performance. To play the mother of the lead villain in one pivotal scene is a true standout. At least Silverstone still works in film and is not blacklisted like other stars. Overall, the film is too arty for its own good and this is what is the overall let down: Too slow!

Aly Lalji |

Drama, Mystery | Greece, 2017 | 15 | 3rd November 2017 (UK)| Curzon Artificial Eye | Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos |Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Bill Camp, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic, Alica Silverstone

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