The Killing Of A Sacred Deer


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Colin Farrell in The Killing Of A Sacred Deer by Yorgos Lanthimos, part of the Cannes official Competition selection
"Lanthimos confirms his reputation as one of contemporary cinema’s most original and unsettling directors" | Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

With his fifth feature and his second in English director Yorgos Lanthimos displays his trademark dark humour, unsettling gaze and psychological rigour which has its roots in Greek tragedy.

Colin Farrell (on his second outing with Lanthimos after The Lobster) plays a charming surgeon named Steven whose life begins to fall apart after taking a teenage boy under his wing. Nicole Kidman, who has rarely acquitted herself with such distinction, appears as Farrell’s ophthalmologist wife.

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Alicia Silverstone makes the most of a small role as the boy’s mother out to seduce the doctor (with apple pie no less) in a hilarious scene at her house while Irish newcomer Barry Keoghan (coming up in Dunkirk) impresses as the youthful dark force for unleashing vengeful evil.

Lanthimos and his screenwriting partner Efthimis Filippou pace it succinctly, inveigling us into the uneasy friendship between the surgeon and the teenager, who keeps turning up unannounced at the hospital. Farrell reveals his lurking disquiet even though there is nothing in the boy’s initial attentions to prompt too many alarm bells.

On the surface this is a well-heeled family going about normal domestic business but the cracks begin to appear. The controlling doctor is being blamed by the boy for his father’s death during an operation but the youngster keeps his animosity guarded for these first encounters.

Then, under questioning, he let’s go telling Farrell’s character that having killed his father, he now must take the life of one of his own family. If not, all three of them will get sick and die.

His prophecy starts to materialise with the two children - 14-year-old Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and her younger sibling Bob (Sunny Suljic) - each struck down by an inexplicable paralysis.

Farrell and Kidman both give stand-out performances of deliberate restraint which provides even greater emphasis to the horrors that are about to unfold.

Lanthimos confirms his reputation as one of contemporary cinema’s most original and unsettling directors with a vision all of his own.

Reviewed on: 23 May 2017
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A teenage boy tries to integrate a surgeon into his broken family but his motives become increasingly sinister.
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Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Writer: Efthymis Filippou, Yorgos Lanthimos

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Alicia Silverstone, Raffey Cassidy, Bill Camp, Barry Keoghan, Anita Farmer Bergman, Sunny Suljic, Denise Dal Vera, Megan Chelf Fisher, Lea Hutton Beasmore, Rachael Mcadams, Michelle Poole, Nathaniel Sizemore, Jerry Pope

Year: 2017

Runtime: 109 minutes

Country: UK, US

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