KYNODONTAS (Dogtooth), 2009.
Directed by Giorgos Lanthimos
Greek with English subtitles, 94 min.
Three grown children of an upper class Greek family have never left the premises of their home and are only allowed to know of the outside world whatever the parents decide is best for them. They are thought different meanings of the words that refer to anything outside their small world; they are told men are eaten by cats and that they can only leave home when their dogtooth falls out. Is it a disturbing educational experiment gone astray? Is it a social or political allegory? Is it about growing up or being manipulated? Giorgos Lanthimos makes sure to leave all interpretations open. Winner of Un Certain Regard at the Cannes film festival.
“As a metaphor, the film is open-ended, although some have read it as uniquely relevant in an age of Palinite insularity. Dogtooth never offers much in the way of motives, but it does raise intriguing questions about the blinders with which we view the world. Movies themselves are a form of behavioral conditioning—providing us with a set of stimuli and teaching us how to react—and perhaps it’s best to appreciate Dogtooth as a playful, self-reflexive exploration of that notion, culminating in the year’s most bleakly funny punch line.”
Ben Kenigsberg, Time Out Chicago
“Dogtooth” is a bizarre fantasy that takes the concept of home schooling to squirmy extremes. Some home schoolers try to limit what their children can learn, and others attempt to broaden it. The parents in “Dogtooth” have passed far beyond such categories, into the realms of home psychopathology. “Dogtooth” is like a car crash. You cannot look away. The Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos tells his story with complete command of visuals and performances. His cinematography is like a series of family photographs of a family with something wrong with it. His dialogue sounds composed entirely of sentences memorized from tourist phrase books. The message I took away was: God help children whose parents insanely demand unquestioning obedience to their deranged standards.”
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times
“Dogtooth is so suggestive and frightening, it invites solving, but only by the brave. The question won’t be where—directed and cowritten by Greece’s 37-year-old Yorgos Lanthimos, the place feels like an abstract comfort zone that might be any suburb—so much as when. Has the world become so terrifying, it requires a complete block-out? The mood captures child-rearing run amok, tinged with notes of post-9/11 fear culture and a commanding sense of apocalypse. The whole cast is stellar, acting out of habit; their jerks and motions could be made to signify anything.”
Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York