Dogtooth a triumph

In Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth, a monstrous suburbanpaterfamilias subjects his children to bizarre conditioning ritualsdesigned to leave them cowed, naïve and unaware of the world.

In Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth, a monstrous suburban paterfamilias subjects his children to bizarre conditioning rituals designed to leave them cowed, naïve and unaware of the world.

This scenario would seem to represent an anti-authoritarian political allegory, though Lanthimos — who was at TIFF in 2005 with his debut feature Kinetta — prefers to play things close to the vest.

“I’m not aiming for anything that specific,” he says. “I like making films that are quite open. It could be one thing or it could be another. I will say I am enjoying all the different interpretations of my work.”

Whatever the film’s true meaning, there’s no question it’s an aesthetic triumph: Lanthimos’ images of domestic life gone insane are impressively precise, using limited perspective and extended duration to alternately comic and frightening effect. Critics have invoked the painter David Hockney as a visual influence, which Lanthimos finds amusing.

“Of course I am aware of him, and I think that all of of the culture that we experience gets built into what we do,” he says. “But it’s more of an instinctive thing. It’s not like I sat down with my collaborators and looked through a book of Hockney paintings and said, ‘Let’s make (the film) look like that.’ There are many things that come into the film accidentally, and then I try to shape it in the direction I want.”

 
 
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