Following up from his critical success, ‘The Lobster’, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos is back with his new film; ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’. Also returning is co-writer Efthymis Filippou who once more collaborates with Lanthimos for the screenplay here, which won the film the Best Screenplay award at Cannes earlier this year. Like Lanthimos’s previous films ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ is difficult to categorize into just one genre. It will be different things to different people but all you really need to know is that it’s a rather unique piece of storytelling.
At first the narrative offers very little exposition which should provoke a lot of interest from audiences. Rather than the lack of information about certain characters and situations being frustrating it’s all very intriguing, at times being quite unsettling as you try to piece together what’s really going on. Once the film reveals the finer details of it’s narrative the story only becomes even more fascinating to watch unfold. Lanthimos & Filippou have once again demonstrated their wonderful creativity and special talent for crafting truly original stories. Their writing does suffer from some pacing issues though, a problem they’ve encountered before. Here the film feels too long-winded in it’s second half being drawn out maybe further than it needed to be. Thankfully there is an especially powerful score to accompany this narrative which is incredibly effective in elevating the drama witnessed by the audience.
One of the best qualities about ‘The Lobster’ was it’s seriously dark comedy. There is some of this present here too but not to the same level. The stakes feel higher in this narrative and maybe that’s why there isn’t as much or maybe just why it’s not quite as effective this time round. There’s certainly a few laughs included though. The deadpan performances also make a return and if audiences aren’t accustomed to these they’ll take some getting used to but those familiar with Lanthimos’s work will know exactly what to expect. Colin Farrell & Nicole Kidman share the screen for the second time this year after their appearances in ‘The Beguiled’. These top-billed performers work very well together and create an engaging dynamic to watch. However, it’s youngster Barry Keoghan who really stands out. He has a very mysterious role to play here and he does so with tremendous confidence. Through his work here and in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ during the summer Keoghan is quietly building momentum in his career. There’s no need to get ahead of ourselves though as his performance here is brilliant and deserves a lot of recognition as it really pulls the whole film together.
‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ definitely joins the likes of ‘Colossal’ & ‘mother!’ in terms of the more creative cinematic outings we’ve seen this year. It’s screenplay is written with a special uniqueness to it that for the most part is enthralling to watch develop. The score is particularly helpful in sustaining audience attention but some viewers will struggle with the pacing. That small flaw aside, there’s always plenty else to appreciate. Nothing more so than the performance of rising (risen) star Barry Keoghan.
Written by Hamish Calvert
Rating – 8/10
Question: What has been your favourite original screenplay from a film this year?
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