Movie review: ‘Dogtooth’

The second feature from Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos and the winner of the prestigious Un Certain Regard section at Cannes in 2009, “Dogtooth” is part enigma, part allegory and even part sci-fi in its creation of a completely alternate reality.

The story assays a well-off family living on a remote compound where the parents work to keep their children, now young adults, confined to a state of arrested pre-adolescence free from outside influences. The children, and by extension the film itself, exist in a state charged with sexualized tension and menace that constantly threatens to break loose.

“Dogtooth” reaches a frenzied climax of sorts when the older daughter turns a family-night dance into a startlingly enthusiastic, innocently inappropriate and illicit recreation of a number from “Flashdance.”

All of the film’s purposeful weirdness is conveyed with an unaffected simplicity that recalls the dead-aim haphazard compositions of photographer William Eggleston.

Though its elusive character is undoubtedly part of its strength, “Dogtooth” ends up feeling somehow like a dodge and a sidestep. As a film, it’s pure and singular, but it’s not quite fully formed enough to be what one could call truly visionary.


Mark Olsen

“Dogtooth.” No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes. Playing at the Cinefamily, Los Angeles.