The Killing of a Sacred Deer – Movie Review

“A surgeon never kills a patient. An anaesthesiologist can kill a patient, but a surgeon never can.”

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The Lobster, released in 2015 was my first venture into the cinematic world of Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos and I was quickly captivated by the unique concept and wickedly dark humour. Being beautifully shot featuring excellent performances from Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz doesn’t hurt either and with The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Lanthimos has firmly established himself as one of the more intriguing filmmakers of today.
While The Lobster leaned more towards dark, misanthropic comedy with Sacred Deer he retains his signature dry, matter-of-fact dialogue and deceptively static performances but this time in a movie that swaps comedy for tragedy; starting disarmingly slow, gradually picking up steam as all the pieces fall into place until I was left gripping my legs with anxiety at the film’s enthrallingly tense finale. This is a movie that lingers with you long after you’ve left the theatre and that is a rare thing these days. This is certainly one of the most unsettling movies of 2017.

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Reteaming with Lanthimos once more, Colin Farrell plays imperturbable surgeon Steven Murphy who has taken young, mysterious teenager Martin (Barry Keoghan) under his wing but soon Steven, his wife Anna (Nicole Kidman), and two children Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and Bob (Sunny Suljic) slowly realise that Martin is a very disturbed young man with a malevolent plan of his own. One that will threaten to destroy Steven’s ideal family life. I’ve always been at fan of the vastly underrated Farrell and his best work usually comes from great character driven stories such as In Bruges and the aforementioned Lobster and here his talents are a perfect match for Lanthimos’ unorthodox script. Many viewers may accuse the movie of being boring or the dialogue being slightly monotone but this is just Lanthimos style and here it is utilized in an extremely effective, modern version of a Greek tragedy that will chill you to the bone. All the actors are on excellent form; Farrell and Kidman’s odd relationship becomes more and more strained and it’s riveting to see. Kidman in particular has plenty to work with and, while I admittedly have underrated her in the past, she is terrific here. But the one person who absolutely steals the show is Barry Keoghan’s Martin. There have been countless disturbing villains throughout the years, from Hans Gruber to Heath Ledger’s Joker which makes it hard to find new ways to pen an inventive, sinister antagonist but after contemplating the move I feel that Martin deserves to be held in as high a regard. We aren’t told why Steven has chosen to mentor Martin in the beginning but we soon see that this is a young man, who despite being initially friendly and charming, clearly has a mental disorder which languidly becomes more threatening as he reveals his plans for the Murphy family and his sad past. The Irish Keoghan (previously seen in another 2017 epic Dunkirk) absolutely deserves an Oscar nomination for this but I feel he may go overlooked, so unusual is this film. This young man has a bright future ahead of him if he keeps this level of raw talent up.

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This is a fascinatingly morbid and confidently directed psychological drama unlike any other movie I’ve seen. Be warned, do not expect everything to be wrapped up in a cathartic bow by the time the credits roll. This is not a casual watch but a discomforting movie that hooks you without you even noticing and leaves you with a sinking feeling in your stomach. I cannot wait to see where Lanthimos ends up next and I hope he brings Farrell along with him as they are slowly becoming an exciting director-actor partnerships.

 

So until next time…

keep the change!

 

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