The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Replicants in Blade Runner exhibit a broader range of emotions than either Colin Farrell or Nicole Kidman in The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

The duo, who portray married physicians, exchange blunted discourses like they’ve been popping psychotropics.

Director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster) gives us boudoir foreplay that includes mock anesthesia, because…DOCTORS.

It’s of course, all in the name of Art House cinema with a capital A.

The only thing missing is gazing forlornly into the distance to discordant keyboard strikes.

A young teen Martin, whose father died on the operating table under the watch of Dr Murphy (Farrell) is looking for redress, in the form of an eye for an eye: unless Murphy kills a member of his own family, Martin is going to do it for him, poisoning the whole clan. At first, Farrell doesn’t believe the blackmailer until the physical symptoms Martin predicts, come to pass. This includes paralysis, which, if it were to have happened to the Kidman or Farrell characters, would’ve gone unnoticed at least as far as their facial expressions are concerned. They need to be slapped awake they’re so emotionally distant and lacking in urgency.

Lanthimos expects an audience to buy into a revenge poisoning conceit, with protagonists who perhaps are early advocates to defund the police, so unwilling are they to involve the boys in blue with their affairs. Instead, all they do is run test after test after test. How about an MRI, what about a PET scan? How about a second opinion?

It’s a nagging, stupid, moronic plot detail that drapes a pall over the proceedings.

As willfully alienating and offputting as any movie you’ll ever see, The Killing of a Sacred Deer wastes beautiful camerawork, gorgeous music by Bach and Schubert and an interesting gimmick, not to mention a killer (literally) performance by Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk) as the sociopathic kid.

Still, it does bring the goods with some incredibly disturbing set-pieces, including of all things, someone wolfing down spaghetti, and a side-by-side armpit hair comparison. And it’s worth giving it a hand for something else as well, no spoilers here.

*** (out of 5)

[check out The Killing of a Sacred Deer podcast discussion)

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