Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic. UK/Ireland/USA. 2h 1m
One main thing which I have admired about Yorgos Lanthimos is that since his debut in 2009 with Dogtooth, he’s got a persistent streak to deliver his brand of cinema no matter what, his idosynchetric practice is very distinctive and each film since has been highly meticulously created, giving something different each time but with a strong je ne sai quoi which is very Lanthimos-esque.
Obviously loving the experience from The Lobster (2015) Colin Farrell returns for another darkly bizarre story this time it’s not about falling in love it’s all about a cold dish of revenge. The film opens with open heart surgery being performed by the skilled surgeon Steven Murphy (Farrell), afterwards he meets a young boy named Martin (Keoghan) the relationship between the isn’t explained and the curiosity continues as Steven returns home to his family, Anna (Kidman) and their two children, with their idyllic and somewhat stale life in the suburbs.
Steven eventually reveals to his fairly distant wife (Kidman) that Martin’s father died after heart surgery that he performed 10 years ago, he’s been bonding with the boy to help him through the grieving process. After a dinner with Martin and his mother, she tries to seduce Steven, who narrowly escapes, as he tries to pull away from the boy who begins to make more demands on him, then strange things begin to happen to Steven’s children. First his son collapses, while there is nothing physically wrong with the youngster he can’t move his legs, as if he’s psychologically paralyzed from the waist down. While visiting his son in hospital, Martin arrives and in private he starts to lay down the law. He tells Steven the he knows that his father died during surgery and that Steven is to blame, and now Steven’s children are cursed, first they will be paralyzed, then they will stop eating and the final sign is bleeding from the eyes, then the will die, unless his kills one of them himself to save the other. One life for another.
The remainder of the film starts to get a bit vicious, Steven doesn’t want to accept that he’s responsible, he doesn’t want to believe in the “mumbo jumbo” curse on his children. Anna does her own investigations into what happened to Martin’s father, as far as she’s was aware her husband is innocent. The situation gets exacerbated when Martin arrives at the family home and their daughter becomes paralyzed and their son stops eating, another symptom of the curse and Steven gets desperate.
Overall the film is both bizarre and mesmerising meditation into karma, Lanthimos has an eye for stunning architecture, often dwarfing the actors involved and opening up huge spaces. For me the strangest aspect was the dialogue, something which seemed to have been badly translated and regurgitated by a robot, the only off putting aspect of the film.
There are great solid performances all round but Barry Keoghan really impressed, he’s played some difficult characters in the past, especially in Traders (2015) and Trespass Against Us (2016), one minute he’s a sweet adorable teen who’s possibly short a few facilities, the next he’s a cold blooded monster, but his overall demeanor doesn’t shift, how he manages it, I just don’t know, but it’s magic to see, this boy will go far.
Loosely based on the myth of Iphigenia, transposing some ancient revenge into the modern day by a curious cat such as Lanthimos has created a movie that somehow manages to get creepy without really realising it. It’s powerful and really gets under the skin, much like Se7en (1995) it brings old values kicking and screaming into a suburban home and makes us remember what we’re supposed to feel guilty and sinful about.
R: The Lobster (2015), It Comes at Night (2017)
L: Revenge Movies
5s: Colin Farrell, Barry Keoghan