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KILLING OF A SACRED DEER, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Steven (Colin Farrell), an eminent cardiothoracic surgeon is married to Anna (Nicole Kidman), a respected ophthalmologist. They are well off and live a happy and healthy family life with their two children, Kim, 14 (Raffey Cassidy) and Bob, 12 (Sunny Suljic). Steven has formed a friendship with Martin (Barry Keoghan), a fatherless 16 year-old boy whom he has taken under his wing. Things take a sinister turn when Steven introduces Martin to his family, gradually throwing their world into turmoil and forcing Steven to make a shocking sacrifice or run the risk of losing everything.

Review by Louise Keller:
Yorgos Lanthimos' The Killing of a Sacred Deer excels at dishing out discomfort and like Michael Haneke's Funny Games, we never know how far the film will take us. This allegory is intense psychological horror buoyed by an unnerving discordant music score that leads us into a murky emotional quagmire. It is about actions and consequences and Lanthimos paints a chilling reality into which he places his top-drawer cast. Thought provoking and disturbing, this is not a film for the faint hearted.

Choral music accompanies the film's startling opening scene: an unnerving close up of a human heart during surgery. This is our introduction to Colin Farrell's heart surgeon Steven Murphy, who then walks down the hospital corridor with his anesthetist colleague Matthew (Bill Camp) idly chatting about watches. There is an unfathomable dynamic between Steven and Martin (Barry Keoghan), a strange 16 year-old boy to whom Steven seems obliged. There is a ritualistic approach to sex with his wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) and a detachment with his children Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and Bob (Sunny Suljic). It is as though Steven is sleepwalking through his life.

The plot involves secrets, guilt and revenge with much of the action being internal. The performances are startlingly good. Kidman has never been better as the calm, expressionless Anna with hidden strengths, while Farrell (who also starred in Lanthimos' 2015 controversial film The Lobster) has a disquieting remoteness. The big surprise is Koeghan, who is astonishing as the film's creepy catalyst, around whom everything revolves. Cassidy as the infatuated teen and Suljic are also excellent. Watch out for Alicia Silverstone as Martin's mother. We almost squirm with discomfort in the scene after dinner when she admires Steven's clean, beautiful hands. But of course clean hands are integral to the plot.

It's a hard-hitting film and Lanthimos' creates an indelible mood that will linger. If I have a criticism, it is that we are asked to suspend our disbelief a little too long.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A parable wrapped in a dark fairytale, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, is as unsettling as it is clinically methodical, to the point that dialogue is often flattened, the hospital corridors are almost totally empty, and so are the streets, when we see them. It's stylised a la Yorgos Lanthimos, who allows the audience plenty of time to interrogate his film for clues as to its nature - but hides its essential characteristics as much as possible, behind a faŤade of almost full on naturalism. He also hides - or avoids identifying - the geographical setting, other than its profile as a city on a river. It's not about place; it's about karma personified. Or revenge. Quite standard fare, really, for cinema, except not in the hands of this filmmaker.

The central character is not heart surgeon Steve (Colin Farrell) or his eye specialist wife Anna (Nicole Kidman), nor their two children, Kim, 14 (Raffey Cassidy) and Bob, 12 (Sunny Suljic). The driver of the drama is 16 year old Martin (Barry Keoghan), the outsider who brings gifts and curses to the household.

Lanthimos gets to the heart of things quite literally from the start, with a close up of an open heart operation at the closing stage, heart beating, surgeon sewing ... life & death in a single frame.

The screenplay is sure footed and inspired as it carefully builds the scenario, adding little bricks at a time like a grim Lego project. But it could not succeed with Keoghan's remarkable presence and performance, his unique face the perfect vehicle for this mysterious proposition.

I am reluctant to go into details to avoid the film's effect being spoilt, except to say Lanthimos walks a knife's edge between drama and what we might call supernatural horror, without signalling that he is doing so. Beware this film!

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

KILLING OF A SACRED DEER, THE (MA15+)
(UK/Ireland, 2017)

CAST: Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Bill Camp, Alicia Silverstone,

PRODUCER: Ed Guiney, Yorgos Lanthimos, Andrew Lowe

DIRECTOR: Yorgos Lanthimos

SCRIPT: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Thimios Bakatakis

EDITOR: Yorgos Mavropsaridis

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jade Healy

RUNNING TIME: 119 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 16, 2017







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