Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic, Alicia Silverstone, Bill Camp.
Damnation of any kind can eat away at your soul, from the careless whispering challenge to the outburst in which people regret their poorly chosen words of anger, all is sent out into the world like a Pandora’s Box of ill will; the revenge of something taken and the need to redress the balance is uppermost in such human episodes of grief made sentiments taken to extremes.
Absurdist thought perhaps but it is in the absurd we often find the glimmer of a truth staring back at us, its headlights full and straight, the beam of light making our vision uncomfortable and the question that sits at the heart of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer, of just how much credence to we give to the threat of harm; is it a self perpetuating realisation that we are susceptible to the universe or to a single person who might have the evil eye on us.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a film that could go either way, the slow, sometimes seemingly pointless sentences, delivered with precision, order and distinct serve purpose to the charged sense of organisation in which Colin Farrell’s character Steven Murphy keeps his life and regulates those around him, from the sense of control of the length of his son’s hair, to the way in which his wife, Nicole Kidman, is seen to present herself as a subjective and passive sexual offering in bed. It is only when the unknown quantity of Barry Keoghan’s innocuous malevolence shows up in his life that the world becomes distressingly bent of shape.
The relationship between Mr. Farrell and Mr. Keoghan is almost akin to the violence found in different unions, the power between one and the other always flirting in between the space where the two exist, where the damage of being kind is heightened and full of danger. It is a relationship that borders on seemingly unresolved sexual tension, of a father figure but with more feelings attached and it is one that underpins the film and brings about the evil eye and passionate damned curse.
A film whose premise may seem absurd; however like Colin Farrell’s and Yorgos Lanthimos’ mischievously superb The Lobster, the film is dynamite, it is an explosion of thought placed down in the realms of what if, The Killing of a Sacred Deer asks you the disturbing question of who would you sacrifice to make everybody else’s life safer. A chilling prospect wrapped up in the absurdity of beauty and order.
Ian D. Hall