Colin Farrell plays a surgeon named Steven Murphy. He seems to have the perfect life. A lovely wife (Anna, played by Nicole Kidman), a teenage daughter (Kim, played by Raffey Cassidy), and a younger son (Bob, played by Sunny Suljic). He also has a rather strange friendship with a young boy named Martin (Barry Keoghan), and it's this relationship that starts to change things in his life, leading to a disturbing and thought-provoking third act.
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, who also co-wrote with his regular collaborator Efthymis Filippou, The Killing Of A Sacred Deer is yet another brilliant slice of cerebral oddness from the Greek provocateur. It's even more potentially divisive than his last film, the absolutely brilliant The Lobster, and a number of stylistic choices may aggravate viewers who aren't drawn in by the macabre central ideas that come to the fore as the narrative unfolds.
Farrell gives another fantastic performance (if he decides to work with Lanthimos every other year then I'll be very happy with that), as does everyone else involved, but the speaking style is very strange and almost as if these people are struggling to weigh up the impact of every word they speak, even in the most innocuous of sentences. Kidman, Cassidy, and Suljic all seem a bit more passive, although that's not necessarily the case as you see everyone struggle with the main choice forced upon them, and Keoghan is a wonderful mix of childishness and quiet intensity. Fans of Alicia Silverstone might be surprised by her small role, but I was just happy to see her in a film again, having not seen her in anything for many years (has she been in much lately?).
Less immediately appealing than his previous movie, Lanthimos consistently fills this film with characters who interact in a way that very rarely allows for any actual warmth and humanity. The behaviour is matched by the environment and shooting style, with the situation demanding a fair share of hospital shots, for example, and a detached and clinical camera. What we are shown, and how we are shown it, makes the experience much more voyeuristic and discomforting than many other movies from the past year.
If you have seen some of the previous films from Lanthimos then you will know, to a degree, what to expect here, although that doesn't mean that you will be guaranteed to like it. It has less dark humour than many of his other features, which makes it slightly less entertaining but no less intelligent and interesting. I recommend it to everyone, and I'll be just as happy to hear from the people who hated it as I will be to hear from those who share my own opinion.
You can buy it here.
Americans can buy it here.