Dogtooth (2009) – The Kids Aren’t Alright

In Yorgos Lanthimos‘ “Dogtooth”, the world (the house) for kids is like a playground by them. Everything becomes a turn-around table of their mother. The father, on the other hand, is a God in the world of their kids. For everything to run smoothly and peacefully, the father must isolate them. They are like a dog in a cage. And the cat is their main enemy. When the cat appears, the dog only needs to pounce, bite, to eat them. In a biased perspective, we only see that these children are actually “sick”. Even though they were teenagers, their minds were still young. They just want to be free from their playground.

Lanthimos chose to tell bizarrely. Not really about family dysfunction but it’s more than a black satire comedy thriller. This movie sets in a playground or a family home. You can call it such as the yard, swimming pool, high fences, and others. And everything has these symbols. Like a high fence, they cannot see the world outside their enclosure. Like a dog too, they obey their master. When they want something, they just need to lick the master hand. There are prizes if the dogs can achieve anything. Whether is training or who the most loyal to their master.

The parents always try to prevent their three kids from the bad influence of the outside world. They can’t leave the house. There is no connection from the outside, no telephone, no television. The dog can only watch the video recording of their own family. On the other hand, the master gives the best besides the mother also cannot leave the house. All back to God or their father. The father only goes to work in the morning. He comes home with prizes or food for their dogs to eat.

It’s hard to know that “Dogtooth” is a dark comedy about family dysfunction. However, it’s also difficult to laugh or find which the comedic part. Even like that, in some scenes, I like it and laugh when the kid asks what is “zombie” or “c*nt”. According to their children, “sea” means armchair. There are “zombies” as sunflower, “c*nt” as a large lamp, “keyboard” as the vagina, and “shotgun” as birds. Every day, they learn a variety of new words, for their children, but normal for ourselves. So, there is a sentence such as “turn off the c*nt” or “I’ve found two little zombies”.

To get a balance, the father hires a female security guard to come to their house. The security guard has only one goal, which is to fill the sexual needs of their only son. They are not yet mature but are still innocent with worlds like this. Likewise with their two daughters. They all don’t have many opportunities to protest with their parents. Their morals are conventions and controlled by a biased view of the world of innocence. Because of that, they always whine like a 10-years-old kid in general.

Not hesitating, there is a shift in their family. When it happens, the father tells his daughter to fulfill the sexual desire of the boy. It’s all for the sake of keeping there is no shift in their family. So, they can be happy, can laugh, and can gather like family in general. There is a horrible moment when the father wants to sing a song about love. However, the father pick Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” and explains that this song is about love. With innocent faces, so does the mother, they just clap while dancing happily with reverence.

The father promised if one of their teeth fall out either right or left, they would free. As the title and I think this is a film about monsters or whatever. “Dogtooth” tackles the most sensitive issue in life. However, there will be or there is a situation whether you or anyone where the parents will always be over-protective. On the other hand, this is a hard movie. Yet, it has a lot of symbolism about fences, dogteeth, or others. This movie is so slow. Plus, this is a disturbing movie with so many sadistic, bloody, and vulgar contents. Interaction between characters is natural but full of twist. As a result, there will be many strange events. From dialogue or the protagonist situation, this movie plays subtly.

Besides, this movie leaves a feeling of claustrophobia, uncomfortable, and fearful. In addition to the slow-paced, this movie is very quiet. There is no use of score in this film except for the sound of guitar or piano. The movie is minimalist yet also insane. This film is more than a story about family dysfunction, isolation, and child abuse. Because too protective, the movie left us with one of the most ending ambiguous. I left with so much confused, dazzle, and fear of an actual world. However, what if we have all been restrained by one person or group? Is our fate all the same as this film? The world is chaotic but one person is laughing behind the screen while looking from above. Who is he/she or group?

Lanthimos feeds us with a puzzle, an oddity, with a variety of unordinary scenes. Simultaneously, this film promises a sedative so as not to panic and not go crazy. This psychological movie isn’t for everyone but it is also very dark and difficult to enjoy. “Dogtooth” churns out a feeling with cold hands of Lanthimos from beginning to end. Ultimately giving a double perception of the true meaning of this film. Just turn off the “c*nt” before watching this film.

4 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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