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CANNES 2009 Un Certain Regard / Greece

Dogtooth proves a biting drama


With what proved to be an intelligently witty, provocative, hilariously inventive, bitingly bitter and, given his track record, unexpectedly accessible sophomore project, with Dogtooth [+see also:
film review
interview: Yorgos Lanthimos
film profile
Yorgos Lanthimos got Greece back into the Cannes Film Festival’s official sections for the first time since Theodoros Angelopoulos won the Palm d’Or in 1998 (for Eternity and a Day). It would not be surprising if the young filmmaker were to bring home a prize from the festival.

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The film revolves around a family of five that lives in a secluded country house, their only contact with the outside world a female security officer from a nearby factory, whom the father brings to visit every time his son’s sexual urges need soothing. It is both a refreshing and disturbing view on the concept of family, parenting as a means of cultivating dependence, and how thoroughly bricks are laid to build a wall of lies an misconceptions around children by over-protective parents.

The children in the family are played by Christos Passalis, Mary Tsoni and Aggeliki Papoulia and their minimalistic, over-guided and almost robotic performances shine through and through.

Michelle Valley supports as the struggling mother, while Christos Stergioglou gives a stellar performance as the dominating pater familias, the ruthless mastermind who orchestrates the family’s paranoia, trying to keep his children safe and sterile from everything and anything he thinks might be bad influence on their upbringing.

The cast was overjoyed to watch the film with “a very receptive audience that offered very lively reactions,” says Passalis. And while Lanthimos finds it “a backwards method”, he is “very content that the film has secured distribution in France” by international sales agent MK2, a fact that he hopes “will prove helpful…for securing the film distribution in Greece as well”.

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