dance & aesthetics, mostly
Dogtooth – what a feeling…
February 1, 2011Posted by on
At the weekend I was able to catch Dogtooth (2009) in Canterbury courtesy of the No Wave Cinema Club. This film from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos concerns a fictional couple who keep their children imprisoned in their isolated country home, and spin an increasingly bizarre web of lies in order to prevent them from discovering the true nature of the outside world. All linguistic references that may lead to this discovery are simply redefined or explained away: for example, the word ‘telephone’ is used to denote a salt cellar, and fish spontaneously appear in the swimming pool. When the elder of the two daughters (none of the three children have names) secretly gains possession of two video tapes, she begins to question certain aspects of her upbringing, and long to experience the wider world beyond their house.
Some of my friends in the cinema club saw the film as a political allegory about state control and manipulation, but I wasn’t too sure. Perhaps the film is more an investigation of the very possibility of completely controlling the experience and worldview of another person, in a sense putting the reductionism of those who consider (other) human beings to be passive pawns in the hands of a malevolent state into question. A film about nature vs. nurture, then, or something along those lines.
What really blew me away about Dogtooth, however, was the incredible dance scene that occurs about three-quarters of the way through. If you’ve ever doubted that the choreography from Flashdance could be a powerful expression of the innate human desire for freedom, and at the same time the performative enactment of that freedom, you need to watch this film!
Oh, and for cat lovers: when you see the son doing cartwheels in the garden, you should look away for about five minutes. And mute the sound.