As part of the Blogathon which was organised with fellow bloggers over at the JoBlo forums, we each chose a film for another blogger to watch and review. I was given the task of watching and reviewing the Greek film Dogtooth.
Rating: I don’t feel I can give this film a rating out of 5.
Dogtooth is easily one of the strangest films I have ever seen, and I am not sure that it is a good thing. I still really have no idea how I truly feel about this film. Did I like it? Did I hate it? Well, actually neither, I didn’t hate it exactly but I don’t like it either. Very hard to explain, and I am sure many people out there who have seen this film probably feel very mixed about it as well.
This film does not explain anything, it throws you right into the situation and you have to work our for yourself what is going on. It just starts at random and it actually ends the same way, although with the ending you can guess what was likely to happen. But lets start sort of at the beginning, and what I figured out was going on. We have a family, a father, a mother, two sisters and a brother. The sisters and brother look to be late teens, early twenties and something doesn’t not seem quite right about them. When we first see them, they are listening to a recording which is teaching them the meaning or certain words, however the meanings of the words they are being taught are completely wrong. We see this all through-out the film, for example the son learns the word ‘zombie’ and his mother tells him it means little yellow flowers. They also like to play odd games, and we can see they are clueless as to what they are really doing.
We soon learn that the parents have isolated their children from the world, they live in a big estate and all they have ever known is what their parents have told them. They don’t venture out as they are told a big cat lives outside, and only when they lose their ‘dogtooth’ can they venture out, and when it grows back they can learn to drive the car. Of course once you are an adult you don’t naturally lose any teeth but they don’t know that. They get to watch TV but only video recordings of themselves, they really seem to not know anything real. The only other person they have contact with is Christina, a security guard at the factory where the father works (he’s the only one that ventures out). She comes over to help the son cope with his sexual urges, but you get the idea he doesn’t really understand what is going on. Christina ends up turning things around, introducing one of the daughters to different things.
There isn’t exactly a plot to this film, you just see them live as they do and the odd things which occur. It isn’t really till near the end of the film that anything resembling a plot starts to take shape and once it does the film finishes. It is odd, and strange, and it is likely this is what would happen if people grew up isolated like that and being told certain things which are not true. The parents are odd characters, there is no explanation as to why they have done this, we don’t get any sign of a motivation behind it. Their children are so emotionless, they don’t seem to feel much of anything, the eldest is the only one who seems to want to know more about the outside world.
The acting by our 6 main characters is actually quite amazing, considering what they have to do in this film. Also quite brave as each one of the characters shows nudity, and also full frontal (I think only the mother and younger daughter didn’t show full frontal) and the sex may have been unstimulated, if it was simulated they did a good job of making it look as real as possible. This film does have quite a lot of disturbing elements, and yes incest does happen, but you get the idea those involved have no idea what they are really doing. The nudity and sex feels unnecessary and necessary at the same time, it is weird. The director certainly got the best possible performances by his actors and he makes some really interesting shots as well (I thought the blood in the sink was a great looking shot). Does this film have any meaning? I guess you could look at it as saying something about isolation from society, or misleading others. It is hard to tell what they wanted to say with this, which is part of the issue I have with it. I can’t help but think of Larry Clark’s films, similar in the way that the people involved are messed up, the sex and nudity is right there, but I can at least find the meanings in his films. Dogtooth as I said is one of the strangest films, I don’t think I want to watch it again but as more time goes on I might be able to give it a rating and perhaps decide if I hate it or like it.
Other Blogathon reviews:
24FPS reviews 11:14
Islanded in a Stream of Stars reviews Dahmer
Cine-a-Tech reviews Equilibrium
UPDATED: Since I wrote this review and I had more time to think about this film I didn’t hate it, but I have grown quite fond of it. An amazing achievment, so unique and thought provoking, it is a masterpiece of modern cinema. It gets a definite and solid 5/5 now.
It’s definitely a strange and difficult film. I also happen to think it’s an uttely brilliant one. Larry Clark’s an interesting comparison, but for me I was thinking more of Haneke (especially given the austere, composed, long held shots)
I’m pleased that even if you didn’t exactly like the film (and I understand that, it almost goes out of the way to alienate you) that you seem to have respected it.
We should have a proper chat about it.