Family is at the core of almost every drama themed movie. A nuclear family like the one we see in all of suburban America comes under fire frequently in movies. The driving force of cinema, with the success of A Serious Man and the failures of Suburbicon highlighting the divide well enough. If anyone were to dissect the middle class movie setting appropriately, it would be director Yorgos Lanthimos as he throws a twisted and thrilling spin on the tight family unit, in The Killing of a Sacred Deer.
His direction as ever is unique and tremendous with lots of lingering shots, cameras held up high, way above the heads of the characters; we possess an almost heavenly view on characters going through their own personal hell. Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman star as Steven and Anna Murphy, two medical professionals who are cursed by Martin, played by Barry Keoghan. Farrell must choose a member of his family to kill, otherwise the entire family will deplore themselves in the consequences.
It’s a slow start to the movie and the first forty or so minutes really begin to bore. Setting the scene for a climactic and eventful final hour. Keoghan and Farrell have some great rivalry scenes, starting out as a father and son style bond, ending in tribulation, turmoil and death. It’s an extremely great example of simple storytelling done right.
Mortality is at the heart of Farrell’s performance, once again proving himself to be a solid draw as a leading man. Kidman does her best but is quickly outshined by the ever-prominent Farrell, however the two do have some great scenes together. The intentionally monotone dialogue serves as a bitter reminder that love can die, and flourish, under the strangest of circumstances.
Lanthimos as a director is truly interesting, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a certainly twisted project, depraved of humanity in the most intriguing of ways. A tight hold on direction once more serves the film well, and the cast couldn’t be more perfectly suited if they’d tried. An at times an overwhelming piece of focused drama, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is the perfect thriller for those that enjoy a blend of style and substance.