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 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.
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.