The Killing of a Sacred Deer

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MA 15+The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos

Written By: Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou

Produced by: Ed Guiney, Yorgos Lanthimos

Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic, Alicia Silverstone, Bill Cam.

Director and co-writer of, The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos, has returned with another psyco-drama, medical mystery, that revolves around Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell), a cardiac surgeon and his family including his ophthalmologist wife, Anna (Nicole Kidman) and son Bob (Sunny Suljic) and daughter (Raffey Cassidy): a seemingly happy family.

They lead a controlled, perfected and always logical expression of everyday life.

Until Steven’s friendship with young Martin (Barry Keoghan), a fatherless 16-year-old who’s expressed interest in becoming doctor, becomes increasingly sinister leading to Steven having to make an impossible choice.

It’s only in crisis any individual of the family shows any emotion.

And this constant calm while faced with the truly bizarre sets the tone of the film.

The nature of Martin matches the sociopathic behaviour of the family, husband Steven taking Martin under his wing, to befriend and become one with his family.The Killing of a Sacred Deer

The scene of Martin getting to know the children highlights the strange nature of the characters in this story, making the impossibility of unexplained sickness believable.

Showing surgeons talking about the mundane after facing the confronting task of heart surgery is a picture of a surgeon’s normal day.  But as the film progresses, so does this response – like the bizarre is the mundane: the camera work focussing in, slowly down that narrow hospital corridor, to MRI scans and lumber puncture’s, so real and awful but what happens to many, many times in a hospital setting.

To pan away from Martin, standing in a car park, to daughter, Kim, waving from the hospital window.  Like the normal is on the outside looking in through a window to the inexplicable.  Like the world has been disturbed, inverting Martin’s absurd world onto the focus of his revenge.The Killing of a Sacred Deer

It’s a strange story but shown well with the hint of the disconcerting given with the opening clang of rising clash of the soundtrack.

And there’s some heavy weights in the cast with Colin Farrell (after featuring in, The Lobster) returning in his role as Steven, and Nicole Kidman as his wife.  Nicole’s performance was exceptional as Anna, being able to express a probing puzzlement and shock, looking for explanation for why her children are becoming sick, all in a look from an obviously intelligent mind.

And yes, the story works.

But it’s just such a heavy, absurd story.

This film took me to dark places, so much so, I was reminded of an article I recently read entitled, ‘The Dark Side of Doctoring’ – posted by an ENT, Head and Neck Surgeon, discussing the depression and suicide of doctors when they experience loss of control, support and meaning because of their career.

I like dark humour, but most of the time I found, The Killing of a Sacred Deer troubling.

Unlike, The Lobster, that allowed moments of lightness – dancing and love (of sorts), there was an unrelenting here that waved more into the dark.

I’m still frowning in wonderment.

The Beguiled

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Written for the Screen and Directed by: Sofia CoppolaThe Beguiled

Based on the Novel by: Thomas Cullinan

and the Screenplay by: Albert Maltz and Grimes Grice

Produced by: Youree Henley, Sofia Coppola

Music by: Phoenix based on Moteverdi’s ‘Magnificat’

Director of Photography: Philippe Le Sourd, AFC

Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke and Emma Howard.

The Beguiled is set in 1864, three years into the American Civil War.  Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman), Edwina (Kirsten Dunst), Alicia (Elle Fanning) and four younger girls remain cloistered like nuns behind imposing wrought iron fencing that encloses the Southern girls’ boarding house, where Miss Martha and Edwina used to teach.

Three years is a long time for women to be hidden away, following a daily routine of sewing, lessons and the half-hearted attempt to control the Southern jungle threatening to overgrow the old plantation house and all those in it, like the wild vines, mosquitoes and mist represent the wild nature of the women, barely held in check by their day-to-day routine.

When Corporal McBurney (Colin Farrell), a Union soldier, is found injured amongst the old cyprus and oak trees, he’s brought back to the well-ordered school-house where he’s nursed back to health.  The presence of a man in the house after so many years changes the atmosphere, creating tension.

Canons explode in the distance and the heat continues but the insects don’t seem to be noticed as much when there’s a man in the house.  A charming man who’s able to relate to all the women, each of them special from the strong Miss Martha to the quiet yet beautiful Edwina, the bored and precocious Alicia, to the innocence of the younger girls.  Corporal McBurney charms them all.  The Irishman believing himself to be truly lucky to have such attention, not knowing the danger of a lonely woman’s heart.

And like good milk left out in the heat turns sour, the women’s hold on normal life slowly twists into something dark and cold.


The Beguiled

Director Sofia Coppola knows how to show the danger of love turned bad.  She’s adapted the original film, staring Clint Eastwood as a man trapped by the women he conned into loving him, and turned the story to the point-of-view of the women.

The cast is so important in this story as the film is all about the behaviour and interaction between the women when a man enters their isolated world.  And Coppola has returned with an imposing cast with Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning who worked with Sofia previously.  You can see the actors are comfortable here and insight into the character is given by each solid performance.  Nicole Kidman was made for her character, Miss Martha.

Did I like the film?

The Beguiled is a quiet film, kept simple with minimal dressing.  Needing a quiet audience, it took me a while to get absorbed into the story.

The southern climate and setting of the beautiful old plantation house were the highlight for me. All recorded on film (with the older aspect ratio of 1:66/I) to show rays of sunshine through mist and the romance of candle light glowing in this isolated house like a glass eye.  The setting enveloping the audience only to turn a blind eye to the happenings behind closed doors.

The backdrop needed to be simple to show the complicated nuances between the characters because the film is all about the subtle and not-so-subtle behaviour of women around a man – the instinct hard to deny and always simmering under the politeness of society.

But where is society during war?  What society is there for bored, isolated, Christian, red-blooded women?

Sofia Coppola says she made the film with, Misery (1990), based on the novel written by Stephen King, in mind and there is that element of the horror of being trapped because of love and obsession.

But, The Beguiled is more subtle, showing how a woman can turn when in competition for a man’s attention, that shift demonstrated well here with skilled performances from a cast well-handled by a careful director.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Director: David YatesFANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Script Written By: J. K. Rowling

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan, Fogler, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Jenn Murray, Faith Wood-Blagrove, Jon Voight, Ronan Raftery; Josh Cowdery.

‘Worrying means you suffer twice,’ says Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne).  Which is another way of saying, Why worry, when there’s no point.  If something bad is going to happen, suffer through it once, not twice!  What a gorgeous way of treating life, the sentiment setting the tone of the film.

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is J. K. Rowling’s debut as a screenwriter.  The inspiration from the Hogwarts textbook of the same name, written by her character, Newt Scamander.

It’s difficult not to compare Fantastic Beasts and the previous Harry Potter films as there’s a similarity in vision; not only writer, Rowling, being the creator of both worlds but David Yates returning after directing the previous 4 ‘Harry Potter’ films.

But this is America, not England.  There’s a new language where Muggles are now called No-Maj (humans without magic).   Where the American’s have the Second Salemers – fanatical No-Maj’s who want to get rid of wizardry for good.

Terrified of exposure, Director of Magical Security at MACUSA (Magical Congress of the USA), Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) makes short work of anyone who threatens the fragile hidden world of magic.  Until Newt arrives with his suitcase full of fantastic beasts.

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Instead of Harry Potter and his young friends battling their way into adulthood, with an exploration into all the dark corners of life in magic and life as neglected children, we have adults running through 1920s New York trying to re-capture cute magical creatures.  Instead of a darker adult outlook, I found Fantastic Beasts to be more childish in its tone.

There was a lack of depth, the feeling of a beginning, a building of a story rather than a whole which was disappointing after the Harry Potter introduction of J. K. Rowling’s magical world.

But what lacked in story was somewhat off-set by the magical creatures, the Niffler, reminding me of a platypus with a keen eye for all that glitters and all that’s gold.

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

I couldn’t help but grin and giggle at the behaviour of these creatures, and that brings me back to the childish tone of the film.

Eddie Redmayne as the protagonist, Newt, was likeable and I could relate to his awkwardness, which was essential as I felt if you liked Newt, you liked the film.

But I admit I wanted more from this film, from this story.

The characters were likeable, the creatures adorable, but the story didn’t have that darkness that make the Harry Potter films such a surprise.

Fantastic Beasts is a PG-13 film that I’d take my nephews to watch for some fun entertainment.  Which doesn’t make it a bad film just not thought-provoking.  The Harry Potter films were an adaptation with more thought to the themes like good versus evil and all the inbetween.  Whereas Fantastic Beasts felt more like a glossing over of the story.

I’m expecting a series here.  A series that will get deeper and darker as the story progresses.