When Yorgos Lanthimos takes on a new project, you should expect the unexpected. With the Greek director’s first English-language feature film, 2015’s The Lobster, he presented a dystopian future in which men and women faced a grim fate if they failed to partner up. It was absurd, darkly comic and incredibly surreal. Lanthimos’s knack for deadpan delivery and a gothic, fairy-tale sensibility in his stories made him stand out. Now, he’s following that up with The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, one of the darkest but also most hilarious films of 2017.
Set amid a suburban couple’s seemingly perfect life, the film examines the apparently idyllic existence of surgeon Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) and his wife Anna (Nicole Kidman), revealing a story of good versus evil, life versus death and fate versus free will. Steven’s curious friendship with a 16-year-old boy (Dunkirk’s Barry Keoghan) is slowly, teasingly revealed to have huge consequences both for him and his family. In Lanthimos’s signature style, a taboo subject matter is meshed with absurdist visuals and deadpan humour – this is a world that feels like ours, real and relatable, featuring normal people with normal lives, until it veers into nightmarish territory and Steven is asked to commit an unforgivable act to save his family.
Returning to work with Lanthimos after collaborating on The Lobster, Farrell delivers some of his finest work to date. His character retains an eerie composure on the surface while his life is unspooling underneath. And Keoghan’s disturbing teenager is his breakout role, bringing brutish violence to the sterile suburban setting. Supplementing this is an eclectic score (from Under The Skin’s Johnnie Burn) ranging from shrieking, orchestral string sections to spiky punk moments, undercutting the action with a chaotic and frenetic mood. It all combines to form a nightmarish Greek tragedy and a promising future for one of modern cinema’s most captivating directors.
The Killing Of A Sacred Deer is at UK cinemas from 3 November, to see it before anyone else see below.
To see The Killing Of A Sacred Deer before anyone else, get your tickets to ShortList Film Club’s free screenings
Date: Wednesday 1 November at 6.30pm
Venues: Edinburgh Omni Centre, Islington, Leeds Light and Westfield Stratford Vue cinemas.
To secure your place, click here and enter code LCZK26.