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The Killing of a Sacred Deer

A doctor couple with two great children. A fatherless teenager with a mission. An old secret. After THE LOBSTER, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos depicts the destruction of a middle-class family in his newest nightmare.

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In his 2015 black comedy THE LOBSTER, director Yorgos Lanthimos brilliantly portrayed a society of emotionally flat characters in search of love and romance. Lead actor Colin Farrell played a man looking for a mate in a landscape of muted feelings. The result was a truly original and bizarre cinematic experience ripe for audience laughter.

Two years later, Farrell has teamed up again with Lanthimos to depict another constricted character. But this time, the withholding of emotions is played not for laughs, but for intense audience discomfort. THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER, the director’s latest project with co-writer Efthymis Filippou, is a psychological thriller that depicts what happens when the proverbial “sins of the father” wreak havoc on a man’s life and family.

Farrell plays Dr. Steven Murphy, a respected heart surgeon who’s married to Anna (Nicole Kidman), an ophthalmologist. The couple lives with their two children in suburban sterility that mirrors their clinical workspaces. But on the clean surface is an invisible danger, a teenager named Martin (Barry Keoghan) who Murphy has secretly befriended. Polite and considerate yet completely creepy, Martin is a walking poster boy for the film’s aura of suspense.

At first unknown to Murphy’s wife and children, the introverted boy begins to insinuate himself into the family. Soon his presence on the family will become inescapable, as the film takes a “Cape Fear” inspired road trip into horror.

Unfortunately, from the moment Martin reveals his sinister motives, the film loses the power of its anxiety and suspense. The psychological tension loosens, as does Murphy’s emotionless mask. Moments of anger and sadness culminate in expressions of violence, but the eruptions offer no catharsis for the viewer.

Fortunately, the film does regain its footing in its haunting penultimate scene: a domestic sacrifice executed through chance and heartbreak. This “sacred killing” may restore balance to the universe of the story, but when the theater lights come up, many in the audience will still be left searching for their own emotional equilibrium.

Dolissa Medina

Credits

USA/Irland/Großbritannien 2017, 119 min
Language: English
Genre: Black Comedy, Familiy History, Horror
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Author: Efthymis Filippou, Yorgos Lanthimos
DOP: Thimios Bakatakis
Distributor: Alamode Filmverleih
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Alicia Silverstone, Rachel McAdams, Raffey Cassidy, Bill Camp
FSK: 16
Release: 28.12.2017

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Screenings

Screenings

  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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