The Killing of a Sacred Deer

The Killing of a Sacred Deer ★★★★★

No, unfortunately I have not had the pleasure of seeing this masterpiece again, I am simply logging it again to include my full review which has taken a lot of thinking, a lot of heavy breathing and a lot of traumatising flashbacks to write.

Yorgos Lanthimos is a genius. I thought this after watching The Lobster. I know this to be true after watching The Killing of a Sacred Deer. This was my most anticipated film of the year and has now, thankfully, become my favourite film of 2017!

I had the absolute honour of seeing this, dare I say, masterpiece, at BFI London Film Festival. I went alone and the experience was completely unforgettable. Going into this film I didn’t know much about it other than I had high expectations. I avoided reviews in case of spoilers, only reading two which had been written by friends who saw the film at Toronto International Film Festival. The woman who sat beside me also seemed to have no idea what to expect and it soon became apparent that neither of us had seen the sign on the door that said “this screening contains scenes of graphic violence which some may find disturbing”. It is safe to say we more disturbed than we have ever been before. We didn’t know each other at all before walking into that cinema but we connected immediately during a particularly unbearable scene in a garage when we both gasped, along with the rest of the audience, and looked over at each other in complete and utter shock. Throughout the chaotic remainder of the film we each provided the other with moral support which was much needed. If nothing else, Lanthimos’ latest film is certainly a great bonding experience!

If you have seen any of Yorgos Lanthimos’ other films you will already be aware of his unique directing and writing style. If you have not been so blessed to have seen any of his filmography I will not even begin to try and explain this man’s style for risk of complete and utter embarrassment and offense to Lanthimos himself. I like to imagine how his mind works, impossible as it is. I have done the same with another of my favourite directors, Ben Wheatley, and have come to a similar conclusion with Lanthimos as I did with Wheatley. His mind is like a maze and I am lost. Imagining his thoughts is like being stuck in a room full of blinding strobe lights and deafening music with mirrors on every wall - it’s a thrilling, adrenaline-pumping experience but it is also terrifyingly confusing. I don’t believe I will ever understand the thoughts that go through his mind as he creates these phenomenal pieces of art. On the Graham Norton Show on Friday 13th October 2017, Colin Farrell, two-time worker with Yorgos Lanthimos, said that the director believed he had created a comedy. Much like ‘The Lobster’ the humour in Lanthimos’ latest is dark, extremely dark. Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou have written a screenplay so dark and hauntingly hilarious that it makes you feel guilty for letting out a giggle. Many lines are laugh out loud funny and yet so oddly placed that the dramatic switch between tones leaves you laughing, crying and feeling dizzy.

I knew as soon as the film ended that every other word out of my mouth from now until the end of time would be “Barry Keoghan”. He truly is phenomenal in this role, perfectly casted, perfectly executed from start to finish. His is quite easily my favourite performance of 2017 so far and the young, upcoming actor has securely established himself in my definitive list of my favourite performances of all time. Following his spectacular presentation of his undeniable talent in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ earlier this year, Keoghan returns and does not disappoint, proving that he is the young actor to keep an eye on. Even if the film doesn’t interest you in the slightest, the price of the ticket is worth it just for Keoghan’s star turn. With Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Beguiled’ and now ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ being released just this year, Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman are proving themselves to be Hollywood’s latest powerhouse duo. Both performances are some of the best of their careers and I pray that they continue to work with each other as it is a magical thing to watch them on screen together. Despite all the work Kidman has been doing recently with ‘The Beguiled’, ‘How to Talk to Girls at Parties’ and ‘Big Little Lies’ being released this year to name just a few, she hasn’t let this get on top of her and truly out-does herself for director Yorgos Lanthimos. Colin Farrell worried me, only very slightly (I continue to love and respect him with every ounce of my being) as he started the film unable to convince me that his character Steven wasn’t just an alternate universe version of his ‘The Lobster’ character David. After 15 minutes or so, he completely obliterated every single one of my anxieties and his performance only got stronger the further through the film and by the final two scenes I was completely in awe of his abilities.

It would be a crime for me to neglect the work of director of photography Thimios Bakatakis who, through the beauty of his camera-work, establishes Yorgos Lanthimos’ isolated, disturbing, gorgeous world. One particular shot of Nicole Kidman and Sunny Suljic taking an escalator in the hospital really caught my eye as that single, simple shot, describes the film better than any synopsis or review ever could. It is disturbingly empty, leaving you waiting patiently, anxiously for the drama Lanthimos will undoubtedly spring upon you. It’s gorgeously framed. Symmetrical and clean and tense, so tense it’s unbearable. Adding to the tension that plays through the entire 109 minutes is the score. I am here and now officially placing it in my top five film scores of all time. It is never over the top and yet never understated. Every single technical aspect of this film is executed to premium standard.

‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ is truly one of a kind. There has never been a film like this before and, even with Yorgos’ work to take inspiration from, I am almost certain that there will never be another. His style is so unique and emotionally challenging I believe it to be near impossible to replicate. This film, similar to ‘The Lobster’, is a slow burn but it is certainly a sharp, painful and disturbing one. To sum this experience up, I was shaking as the credits rolled and found myself short of breath, filled to the brim with polarising emotions. Anxiety over the contents of the film, awe over Lanthimos’ talent, both relief and sadness that it had ended, frustration that I couldn’t ask the projectionist to put the film on one more time. All I feel is left to say is to reiterate my opening line. Yorgos Lanthimos is a genius.

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