Heart surgeon Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) goes to a local diner to meet a teenager called Martin (Barry Keoghan). Clinically clipped in tone and trading staccato sentences, the two clearly have a connection. They’re seemingly close but not family.
Over the following days Martin appears at Steven’s hospital unannounced, seeking more and more of Steven’s time and attention. Eventually Steven reveals Martin’s existence to his wife (Nicole Kidman) and family, inviting him over for dinner.
Appearing more and more in their lives, Steven feels compelled to reveal a truth to his wife. It’s about Martin and it’s the tip of an even darker secret…
If Darren Aronofksy’s ‘Mother!’ was meant to unsettle you then Yorgos Lanthimos’s ‘The Killing of A Sacred Deer’ is the real deal...
Through characteristically antiseptic characters, ‘Dogtooth’ director Yorgos Lanthimos is fast becoming a genre to himself with a dramatic palette all of his own. As uncompromising as they are disturbing, his movies make for unsettling viewing as they hold up a jagged mirror to the lies we tell and how we choose to remember things differently. In ‘The Killing of A Sacred Deer’ this is no different. If Darren Aronofksy’s ‘Mother!’ was meant to unsettle you then Yorgos Lanthimos’s ‘The Killing of A Sacred Deer’ is the real deal wrapped inside the flesh of a still beating heart.
Like ‘Dogtooth’ (aka ‘Kynodontas’) ‘The Killing of A Sacred Deer’ features a dysfunctional family closing in on itself. Focusing in on the privacy of the domestic realm, its performances are as uncomfortable as are the excruciating choices forced upon its characters.
As Steven, Colin Farrell is trapped in the professional demeanour of his job. Clipped and emotionless, his exchanges with his wife Anna (Nicole Kidman in ‘Eyes Wide Shut’-like form) lacerate both themselves and anyone else around them with the truths they avoid and the guilts they measure. In the pivotal role of Martin, Barry Keoghan makes Ezra Miller’s titular performance in ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ look overly ripe. Whereas you could see Kevin’s malice coming a mile off, Keoghan’s Martin will wrap you in doubt as to both who and what is a victim in a depiction that just screams talent.
In what effectively becomes an acting stand-off between Kidman and Keoghan in the last act, Colin Farrell and the rest of cast are burnt cinders as the stakes are pushed through the ceiling and into disbelief. By comparison, with an ending as memorable as it is unapologetically unsatisfying, ‘The Killing of A Sacred Deer’ will appeal to those who enjoyed ‘Lars Von Trier’s’ ‘Anti-Christ’ and were left disappointed by ‘Mother!’
Yorgos Lanthimos latest movie has left the approachable realm of his dark comedy ‘The Lobster’ and will guide you into even more treacherous waters of a discomfort that creeps upon you unannounced inside a film that defies analysis.