Lev Lewis reporting from the Toronto International Film Festival
My second day at TIFF was likely to be my most relaxing. My first and only film was at 9:45pm, so I decided to head over to Yorkville to see if anything was happening. Walking along Cumberland I spotted Jeffrey Wells at a Starbucks and decided to say hello. For someone like me who lives in Toronto far removed from the film world of LA or New York it was fun to see someone I read everyday hanging out in my town.
I'm currently sitting in a coffee shop with not much time between screenings (Day Three). So, the movie...
Yorgos Lanthimos' sophomore feature, which won Un Certain Regard at Cannes, tells the odd story of three "children" whose parents have guarded them from any interaction with or unfiltered knowledge of the outside world. The film moves languidly, eschewing narrative in favour of mood; filling its somewhat lengthy 94 minutes with striking compositions and random bursts of violence. Lanthimos cited conversations with friends about the current state of family as his main influence for the film. Dogtooth's themes of isolation and control come across as quite relevant and compelling. Had Lanthimos and co-writer Efthymis Fillipou nudged their film towards a stronger narrative, the film could've been more than the minor work I'm afraid it is.
Dogtooth makes up for any lapses in plot with its cinematography. Shot in 2.35 anamorphic and with nearly all natural lighting, Lanthimos and DP Thimios Bakatatakis' meticulously composed shots are stunning in their simplicity. Funnily enough, a film I was reminded of was The Royal Tenenbaums. Both films explore disturbed family dynamics within the confines of a sprawling house. The films shared similar moments of dry humour and troubled relationships between siblings despite the contrasts in tone. Had the script matched the cinematography's brilliance, Dogtooth could have been a masterstroke. Lanthimos' narrative oversights hinder an otherwise exemplary endeavour. Grade: B+