Dr. Steven Murphy is a renowned cardiovascular surgeon who presides over a spotless household with his wife and two children. Lurking at the margins of his idyllic suburban existence is Martin, a fatherless teen who insinuates himself into the doctor’s life in gradually unsettling ways. Soon, the full scope of Martin’s intent becomes menacingly clear when he confronts Steven with a long-forgotten transgression that will shatter his domestic bliss forever.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer is the newest film from director Yorgos Lanthimos. I was a big fan of his last film The Lobster. He has a habit of making this strange, but very metaphorical films with his own very specific deadpan style. Something about his work is so fascinating to me and The Killing of a Sacred Deer is no different.
Let’s get something straight from the start: this film is strange, I mean beyond strange. It is also a very difficult watch. But despite this, it is just so completely fascinating. Colin Farrell is working with Lanthimos again after his fantastic performance in The Lobster. He might be even better here, as he again works with the deadpan style of the script. He is a brilliant cardiovascular surgeon who might have more to hide than what meets the eye. Nicole Kidman plays his wife and goes to extremes that she hasn’t even come close to in her career before. The two young actors that play his kids are great as well. Barry Keoghan is brilliant as Martin, the kid who shakes up the lives of all of the other characters in the film. He manages to seamlessly blur the line between unsettling and calming in an incredible performance.
This film is just so brilliantly made and so polarizing when you sit down and think about it. It’s interesting when watching it for the first time, but the real weight comes when thinking about it afterwards. There is so much that is hidden beneath the surface of The Killing of a Sacred Deer and it warrants multiple watches to begin to scratch the surface.
There are some problems with The Killing of a Sacred Deer. The music can be a bit abrasive at times, but I believe that is by design, and if it was intended to make the audience uncomfortable then it more than worked. Lanthimos is also I think a little to in love with these close ups that he pulls out and turns into wide establishing shots. This might be another way to the audience uncomfortable and if so it does the trick. I actually like these shots but they got a bit under my skin after a while, which again might have been the intention. The film also gets a bit slow in the the third act going towards the fourth, but nothing to scoff at really.
Lanthimos’ films are definitely an acquired taste. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a weird, disturbing, and brilliantly odd film. It is unlike anything that you’ll see this year and makes for a completely unique and wholly unsettling trip to the movies.