Friday, March 11, 2011

Dogtooth - 2 + 2 = Chair

I can't remember the comedian for the life of me (maybe Demetri Martin or Nick Swardson), but they told this joke where you can teach kids anything. For example, when teaching math, you could brainwash children into thinking 2 + 2 = Chair. Since they are innocent and don't know any better, they'll never know the answer is truly 4. As sad as this might be, this anecdote is true and reminds me of the Greek Film Dogtooth.

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, this film caught my attention while watching the 2011 Academy Awards. Nominated for Best Foreign Film, the snip-it showed a guy leaping at a cat with garden shearers. I had no idea what the movie was about, but I felt intrigued and luckily it was on Netflix. Come to find out, that snip-it shown at the Oscars was only a minutia of the weirdness to come.

Basically, the story is about two parents who have totally isolated their children from society by disguising it with terrifying lies. The children (two boys and a girl), ranging from the ages of 16 to 25, have never set foot off the compound they grew up on. Until they lose their "dogtooth," they are not allowed leave the property or else they will be torn to shreds by vicious "cats." The parents teach their children a new vocabulary to protect them from the evil influences of society (i.e. the word zombie means "pretty yellow flower"). However, things start to go amiss when the father invites a female outsider to relieve the son of his "primal urges." The woman indeed pleases the boy, but she has also exposed the sisters to the rarities of the outside world, such as hairbands, styling gel, and VHS tapes. Now armed with a curiosity of the outside world, will the parents be able to contain their children from leaving the safety of their home?

This movie is definitely making a political and social statement. People are meant to be free and able to experience life. If they are repressed of these liberties, they may do painful and harmful things to themselves or others to feel alive. This movie has too many to list, but here are some of the complexes the family developed after being deprived from the outside world:
  • The children played endurance games to pass the time such as keeping your hand in scolding hot water or withstanding mouthwash for as long as you can.
  • In order to keep the children in control, they were punished in cruel and unusual ways. For instance, when the eldest was caught watching Jaws and Rocky, the father beat her over the head with the cassette tapes.
  • Sometimes you cannot withhold "urges." The sisters experimented with each other by licking. Also, when the brother's "concubine" was no longer permitted in the compound, the eldest daughter was forced into the role.
  • With the overwhelming pressures of endurance, punishment, and molestation, the eldest daughter suffered a nervous breakdown. Starting with a comedic but provocative dance, her sanity ended with a cruel realization of what the movie's title truly means.
If you didn't like M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, you may enjoy this movie more. It is comedic, yet very disturbing. It's not a movie you can re-watch on a regular basis, but if you want to be entertained by other people's reactions, show them this movie.

So on Death List Five, Dogtooth ranks #3.

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