Home  Contact Phil


Phil Mellows is a freelance journalist living in Brighton




Directed by Giorgos Lanthimos (Greece 2009)

Aeroplanes fall to the lawn as new toys. Kittens are predatory monsters that will rip the flesh from your face. Anaesthetic makes for a new game to play. A lost brother, tantalisingly close by on the other side of the garden fence, is thrown cake.

This is the captive, and captivating, world of Dogtooth, a spiteful, brilliant black comedy in which the dark and the comic are one.

Hinting at those real-life horror stories of imprisoned, abused children that lie beyond our comprehension, Father (Christos Stergioglou) and Mother (Michelle Valley) live in a posh house with a large garden and a swimming pool enclosed by a high fence within which they have raised three children, now teenagers, in total seclusion.

They know only what they have been taught by their parents, learning a perversely inventive Orwellian double-speak that disguises the truth. A limited language, spoken in stilted phrase book tones, imprisons their minds as much as the fence and the fear of the outside imprison them physically.

So Fly Me to the Moon on the gramophone is wilfully mistranslated by Father as a hymn to family values.

But words are not enough. Son (Hristos Passalis) has sexual needs that must be serviced by Christina (Anna Kaliaitzidou) an employee of Father who pays her overtime for her extra duties.

In a clever irony, Christina is a gatekeeper at Father’s factory (which, it’s worth noting, is more bleak and prison-like than his house). She might have ‘security’ written on her uniform but she’s the leak to the world outside, swapping videos (Rocky, Jaws and Flashdance) for the sexual favours of Older Daughter (Aggeliki Papoulia).

Sex spreads like capitalism through the family. Specifically, licking parts of the body becomes a new currency of exchange. Father and mother begin to lose the control they obsessively crave and in their violent retribution we see what the walls of their prison are really built from.

Violence becomes an infection even the medicalised imaginations of Elder and Younger Daughter (Mary Tsoni) can’t treat. If you’re fond of kittens – or your teeth - look away now.

April 27, 2010

Back to Reviews



Writing... Journalism... Research... Awards Judging... Pub Business Advice... Pub Crawls
Contact Phil