Review: Dogtooth DVD

Dogtooth DVD boxSTUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Yorgos Lanthimos | CAST: Christos Stergioglou, Michele Valley, Aggeliki Papoulia, Mary Tsoni, Christos Passalis, Anna Kalaitzidou
RELEASE DATE: 1/25/11 | PRICE: DVD $29.95
BONUSES: interview with director, deleted scenes
SPECS: NR | 94 min. | Foreign language cult comedy | 2.35:1 widescreen | stereo | Greek with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Dogtooth, a 2009 film from Greece by writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos, is categorized by Kino as a cult movie or drama, but we slot it more as a dark comedy of perverse manners.

A Greek businessman (Christos Stergioglou) and his wife (Michele Valley) raise their three children (Christos Passalis, Aggeliki Papoulia, Mary Tsoni) in an isolated compound surrounded by a high wall. The children will be old enough to go beyond the wall, their parents tell them, when their “dogtooth” grows in.

The isolation leads to absurd humor: The father plays a record for the children of “their grandfather singing;” it’s actually Sinatra doing “Fly Me to the Moon,” which father translates into “dad loves us, mom loves us…” All of the words and phrases that the children are taught by the parents have a built-in fear factor used to keep the young ones intimidated and under control. But the children’s emerging sexual curiosity prompts the father to bring home a co-worker and the carefully manufactured structure begins to crumble.

The affect-less acting (punctuated by the children’s feral moments), spare décor and clinical, antiseptic sex scenes create a chilling, dehumanizing feeling. Whether one interprets the film as a parable of state thought police or a tale of parental domination run amok, it’s a coldly fascinating movie.

Dogtooth (or Kynodaontas in its native Greek) is definitely worth a look, but despite the sterile atmosphere, you’ll need a shower afterward.

Bonus features on the DVD include a selection of deleted scenes, a couple of which are as unsettling as the main film.

 

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About David

David Leopold is an actor, writer and videographer who would take a Sherpa ride up a Tibetan mountain to see an Edwige Feuillère movie.