Colin Farrell and Yorgos Lanthimos are back together again after the politely affecting film - The Lobster, with a purposeful stray from comedy with a sociological horror film – The Killing of a Sacred Deer.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer is about a doctor played by Colin Farrell, who accidently makes an unfortunate mistake and kills a father during surgery. The father’s son Martin, played terrifyingly focused by Barry Keoghan, is guiltily guided by the doctor as a favor for the surgical accident. When the doctor decides to cut ties with Martin, the troubled boy decides to threaten the doctor with a threat of an unknown disease that will plague his whole family if he doesn’t kill one of the members.
Following The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is very much about the existent and the extremes of cultural tradition within mainstream societies beliefs; as in The Lobster dealing with the extreme feelings towards marriage, love and the naturally cultural trajectory of democracy towards cultism, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer is therefore about the extremes of the nuclear family, patriarchy, job hierarchy, classism and the powerful ease of boyhood compared to girlhood that most of society is at the mercy of, e.g. – Martin. Every family member, doctor, male and female do exactly what you’d think they’d do within the confines of stereotypical behaviour when push comes to shove. As such the doctor’s wife played by Nicole Kidman having to sell away her dignity to save her kids, and Colin Farrell’s doctor character seeming calm and control but selling himself into brutal masculine tactics to get his way. Yet Martin is a blank slant saying things threateningly in a calm way, being exactly what he is, an enigma, untouchable and unaffected as a teenage white male who will eventually become a white grown man in charge, as Colin Farrell’s character precedes him. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is absolutely about the banality of male hierarchy, class hierarchy and the banal submissiveness expected of women. Though it’s said this film is based on Greek folklore, it is much more effective as a modern message of what our so called progressive society still perpetuates with gender politics. Further more the film also expresses underlining thoughts about the North American healthcare system, and it’s robotic disconnected, indifferent quality towards the very people it’s created for.
Barry Keoghan portrays a hypnotic creepy performance that oddly goes hand in hand with Yorgos Lanthimos short cut and sometimes comedic directing style, and that metaphorically and accurately portrays the relentless blankly removed/sinister intentions of a trouble teenage male out for revenge in Martin. Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell give thoughtfully quick cut while naturalistic performances, making some of their best acting in the past few years. All this cut together with a suspicious, darkly ominous Kubrick -esq score and steadied shots, and it’s wonderfully intriguing how Yorgos Lanthimos style can switch to funny then horrific.
- Maurice Jones