Don’t let the rating of the film discourage you from seeing it. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a wonderfully strange and worthy cinematic experience. It’s just that with the rating falling between 3 and 4, I had to make a decision. Eventually I decided that since the cinematography outshines the script, The Killing of a Sacred Deer has room to grow.
What attracted me to The Killing of the Sacred Deer was not just it’s interesting subject matter, Colin Farrell or its stunning poster, but its director. Yorgos Lanthimos is a Greek director/writer, who’s previous film The Lobster I thoroughly enjoyed. It also seemed fitting that just before my week in Greece, I’d watch something by a Greek native. The Killing of a Sacred Deer was the obvious choice and even before seeing it, I knew I was in for a treat.
Lanthimos has a strange signature, based on the two films I’ve seen from him. He likes to tackle unnatural situations, and apply an over exaggerated amount of human emotions to them. The Lobster was about societies pressure to be paired up, and the ultimate need to find somebody to be with. It just happened that when you did end up alone, you would be turned into an animal of your choice. The Killing of the Sacred Deer was about quilt, consequences and parents protecting their children. It just happened that it involved an unknown curse, which would eventually lead to death.
If you had to choose between them, which would you said is the best?
If I had to choose, I would pick The Lobster over The Killing of the Sacred Deer in terms of the script and writing. But what stunned me with the latter more, was its cinematography. Scene after scene, Thimios Bakatakis created a cold yet stunning world around this strange story. Bakatakis also worked on The Lobster, but I feel like here, with his latest collaboration with Lanthimos, he really succeeded.
Another strong aspect to the film is its main cast. Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman play husband and wife, both thrown into a difficult situation. The chemistry is strange and strong, and both give a solid performance. To be honest, I love seeing this pair on screen and I would gladly pair them together again. Barry Keoghan as the stories villain is almost as good by being odd, distant and almost menacing during the pivotal moments.
But despite the strenghts The Killing of the Sacred Deer possesses, like I said in the beginning, the story is a little weak around the edges. The main plot is inspired by mythology, and it’s about children paying for the mistakes of their parents. It makes sense, and it sort of works inside this strange script, but it feels too out of the box. The conversations and the dialog is so strange, that it looses itself in style rather than substance.
Eventually though, the film does raise a lot of questions, and I guess that was the point. It’s not a straight up lesson, nor are we given an explanation for the disease. Keoghan’s character, if I had to guess, represents quilt, and Farrell’s character is being pushed into a choice by some devilish intervention. And it’s wrapped up in this visually beautiful package.3