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Winner of Un Certain regard at Cannes A mother and father, desperate to shelter their three children from the outside world, create a self styled utopia inside the walls of their secluded compound. The three children have never ventured outside and spend their days being educated and entertained within the limits of a strict and suppressive system concocted by their father. So far removed are they from the real world, they have their own vocabulary and believe cats to be dangerous wild man eating predators, aeroplanes flying overhead to be toys and small yellow flowers to be zombies. When the father invites a trusted outsider into their home to service his son's sexual urges, the domestic balance is disturbed and the protective bubble surrounding their lives soon implodes.
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medNotRated Unrated (Not Rated)
- Product Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.59 x 6.77 inches; 2.4 Ounces
- Director : Giorgos Lanthimos
- Media Format : PAL
- Run time : 1 hour and 36 minutes
- Release date : September 13, 2010
- Actors : Christos Stergioglou, Michele Valley, Aggeliki Papoulia, Mary Tsoni, Hristos Passalis
- Subtitles: : English
- Producers : Dogtooth (2009) ( Kynodontas ) ( Dog Tooth ), Dogtooth (2009), Kynodontas, Dog Tooth
- Language : Greek (Dolby Digital 2.0)
- Studio : Verve Pictures
- ASIN : B003BKQQ3G
- Number of discs : 1
Best Sellers Rank:
#193,277 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- #6,321 in Comedy (Movies & TV)
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Top reviews from the United States
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If there ever there was a film that is best experienced without knowing a single detail, this unforgettable oddity from Greece is the one - this was Oscar nominated for best foreign in 2009.
A study of human conditioning in extremis, Dogtooth is set almost entirely within the confines of a stately home just outside the city limits. There, walled off by impressive shrubbery and a single gate, live three unnamed siblings and their parents. Though the brother (Christos Passalis) and his two sisters (Aggeliki Papoulia, Mary Tsoni) are all within a stone’s throw of 20, there’s a childlike innocence to them, and it’s no wonder, for not once in their lives have they ever set foot beyond their property line.
With the exception of a telephone hidden away within a cupboard in the parents' bedroom, there’s no access to the outside world. The kids seem fairly well-educated, though they’ve inexplicably been taught some odd vocabulary substitutions by mum and dad, such as ‘keyboard’ for female genitalia, or ‘zombie’ for a small yellow flower found in the garden. They’ve also grown up with a mythology that the only safe way to venture outside of the grounds is by car, for lurking beyond the walls is a vicious monster, known as a cat, that kills instantaneously. And one is only old enough to leave the house when either of their canines have fallen out and grown back. In other words, never.
The father (who manages a factory of some sort) is the sole family member to leave the house on a regular basis, and the only other person the children have ever seen is Christina (Anna Kalaitzidou), a security guard from the factory who is brought to the house (blindfolded, naturally) on occasion to have sex with the son.
The youngsters spend their days creating silly competitive games, such as inhaling anesthesia to see who will wake up first, or engaging in various obedience exercises orchestrated by their parents. Their reality is solely a product of their parent’s imagination, which includes the belief that Frank Sinatra is their grandfather and that the toy airplanes they find in their garden are those that they see flying overhead.
Lathimos gives us no clue as to why the parents have raised their children under these conditions. There’s no indication that they are part of some religious cult, nor do they seem particularly insane. Is it merely a case of over-protectionism stemming from paranoia, or a radical example of isolationism? That we don’t know their motivation leaves us unsure how to respond to the film, for nearly every scene can be read as either darkly comical or disturbingly tragic. The framing is equally disconcerting, with heads often disappearing off the top of the screen, cut-off just as they are from society. Given the siblings’ circumstances, it’s unsurprising that there are hints of incest, but even beyond the film’s (very) explicit sequences there’s a sexually unsettling tone throughout.
The appearance of two well-known Hollywood blockbusters from the Eighties will be the catalyst for the events in the final act, but Lanthimos isn’t going to let us off easily. The film’s inconclusive ending is perfectly suited to the world it so wonderfully creates.
Oh, and yes: the three children, a boy and two fraternal girl twins, don't seem to have any names.
It's a fascinating narrative situation that Lyle Kessler explored in his play Orphans; the children have been systematically isolated and brainwashed their whole lives. Their mother is in on it, but its clear that the father is the instigator and driving force behind it all. He's not your stereotypical tyrant father. He does not shout or torment the children for torment's sake; he even brings an element of whimsy and wonder to the lives of the children, as when he leads them to believe the swimming pool is invaded by sea bream or that airplanes have dropped out of the sky and onto the lawn. He does, however, control his family by constantly pushing them toward his version of perfection, by ruthlessly beating his children in the rare instances when they do go against him, and by, in a pivotal point of the movie, forcing the eldest twin (known simply as "The Eldest") to do something nobody should ever have to.
Even with these climactic atrocities that reveal the father's true character, the most disturbing parts of the movie are the quiet ones, such as when the father says he will play the children a recording of their grandfather singing. He puts on a record of Frank Sinatra, and as Old Blue Eyes croons, the father translates Fly Me To The Moon into Greek, translating the song about love's exultation into another piece of brainwashing about the cruciality of insular family life; or at the parents' wedding anniversary when the twins dance and all the movements are so strange, childlike, alien to any recognizable style of dance from the outside world.
If you can't take quiet, European art movies, this one is definitely not up your alley, but if you can, this one delivers the goods.
Top reviews from other countries
I really enjoyed it and hesitated between 4 and 5 stars. Your mileage may differ :)
An often dark psychological drama on mental conditioning and the provocative influences of pop culture. How watching Hollywood films and owning materialistic accessories can taint an individual's mind and make them susceptible to modern normality. Lanthimos has created an alternate reality, with this family adhering to their own rules and conditions. Nouns are often substituted with other nouns to produce a surprising amount of laughs. For example, "I want to lick your keyboard" is interpreted as "I want to lick your *insert word for female sexual organ*". A "zombie" is a small yellow flower, and a "pussy" is a big light. Simple learned techniques that have been altered to insinuate the father's control over his children. And that is the primary theme in this film, control.
The father is perceived to be the trainer to his children, and often treats them like canines. A metaphorical scene, where the father asks for his dog back but is questioned if he wants "a friend or an animal?", acts as the conduit for the film's message. It is a visual representation of the "Pavlov's Dog" practice, and the small inclusion of external influences starts to manifest a rebellion within the family. Dancing the 'Flashdance' and recreating scenes from 'Rocky' represent the need for pop culture.
But of course, in true Lanthimos style, it's not an easy watch. His static wide shots and visual attentiveness enhances the awkward behaviour of his characters. Their stance, execution of dialogue and physical interactions with each other are hard to watch. The performances from the cast, particularly Stergioglou, were frequently unsettling. However, this also acts as a detriment to the film.
Lanthimos, despite his visual uniqueness, often leaves his characters meandering. The lack of narrative cohesion instead makes the story feel like a composition of random scenes, with little character development. Arguably the film acts as an insight to this reclusive family, but at only 97 minutes long it certainly feels a lot longer. Also, despite a few humorous moments, it's not as outrageously hilarious as it was made out to be. The black comedy is subtle, very subtle. Yet it seems Lanthimos just couldn't quite fully utilise the family's autocratic rule to its full visionary and comedic potential. As with all Arthouse productions, Dogtooth is a conversational piece. Ambiguous, open-ended and full of surrealism that will provide meaty discussions amongst peers. Also worth noting that hitting your jaw with a dumbbell is not a suitable way to knock out a tooth...
There are themes of incest and abuse, yet it's engaging, funny and immensely watchable.
It's really stayed with me, because it is disturbing, but I'd definitely recommend it if you like films with layers and you're not after a predictable film.