I watched this movie awhile ago, but I was thinking about it today for some reason. So, I figured I’d write a bit about it. Dogtooth is not for everyone. It is very slowly paced and it refuses to answer anything about what it is showing you (which includes, among its abject nudity, some rather psychologically intense stuff). You simply watch what happens and make up your own mind. I think this is one of the best movies I have seen this year, and it is definitely one of the most unique I have seen in quite awhile.
The setup is best left undescribed (I seem to be choosing films of late that are better for not writing about). But if you must continue reading, it generally concerns a family who lives in isolation, never leaving the grounds of their home, except the patriarch, who goes to work in a car that is allowed to touch the ground outside of their fenced-off land. No one may literally step foot outside of the gated grounds. The teenage (?) children are raised in a way that shields them from all outside world influence. If they happen to catch onto something they are not supposed to know, it is given a word that means nothing to them (but something entirely different to us). If they happen to catch a glimpse of something they are not supposed to see, it is explained to them in the simplest way imaginable (For example, they occasionally see airplanes fly over their land, so the parents occasionally “crash” model airplanes in the yard to explain away their existence).
This is a study in isolationism that is, of course, ripe with all sorts of metaphorical interpretation. However, it is also a more immediate commentary on the consequences of stifling inquisitiveness and imagination. There is also something here about the causal link between rebellion and maturity. For all its bland formalism, it is a curious treat of fantasy that needs no visual special effects or lofty mythology.
I wonder about the translation, though. The film is in Greek and some of its (sparse) dialogue is very meticulous in how it is used. There are surely puns or double-entendres used here in the original language that had to be translated into foreign words, and I wonder how much of that creativeness is lost in translation to English. Whenever I watch a film in a language I don’t understand (basically everything that is not in English), I have to simply trust that the subtitles are true to the intent of the filmmakers (even though I know implicitly that they sometimes have no control or oversight in this regard). There’s some joke here about how it’s all greek to me, but I’m not seeing it. While this film is certainly not in any way “funny”, I wonder whether its tone is supposed to elicit a kind of dark comedy for those who are not conditioned to be immediately appalled by its bluntness. Its approach is, at the very least, curiously intriguing.
Feel free to let me know if you agree, or yell at me here if you can’t make it through the whole thing.
And, yes, the title makes complete sense once you’ve seen the movie.