Dogtooth / Kynodontas
d. Giorgos Lanthimos / 2009 / Greece / 94 min
Viewed at: Downstairs @ the Prince Charles Cinema (London, UK)
Much like the Isabelle Huppert-led Home, this is a European film about surreal family dysfunction which I should probably love, but which I somehow found lacking. Dogtooth does have flashes of brilliance, particularly as it veers from the mundane to the violent, but it seems caught between wanting to make a series of serious social comments and a desire to just be a bit kooky, never fully reconciling the two.
Like Home, it also bears comparison to an earlier attempt to portray the twisted voids of hyper-internalised family life in Rolf de Heer’s underrated Australian classic, Bad Boy Bubby (1993). But whilst that film maintained its savage creepiness throughout, Dogtooth somehow manages to veer disconcertingly close to the much shallower, off-the-wall comedy of manners which inhabit the films of Wes Anderson.
Beautifully crafted, strange and curiously engaging, Dogtooth is eminently watchable. But it’s no modern European classic.