The Killing of a Sacred Deer sees director Yorgos Lanthimos continuing to find success, with another gem centered around relationships and a high concept scenario to run his characters through.
When a surgeon, Steven, embraces a teenage boy, Martin, who has shown an interest in the field, he connects him with his own family out of the goodness of his heart; or so it may seem. Once Martin connects with Steve’s family some strange things begin happening to them and a dangerous game may be afoot.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer isn’t a plotty film and is more about putting its characters in a situation that is unimaginable. In fact, it is not grounded in reality at all. Well, I shouldn’t say that, but if you get caught up in the “how” of the film you will not be able to sit back and experience the “what”. Trust me, that sentence will make a lot more sense once you see the film, but know that Lanthimos has you in good hands. That said, Lanthimos’ wavelength is not for everyone, but if you have enjoyed any of his previous work Sacred Deer will feel right at home. The tone can bounce between pitch black humor, shocking moral quagmires and sterile examinations of society and the relationships inside it. Lanthimos also continues to shine in the technical department, with his camera feeling as Kubrickian as ever at times here. The music is maybe a bit overpowering at times here, but I think it successfully sets the eerie and unsettling the tone the film often settles into. The film slowly ratchets things up, and when it all comes together it truly sings. Providing laughs, tension and heartbreak around an insane situation, Sacred Deer’s final act is up there with anything Lanthimos has done yet.
The cast is excellent here, with Lanthimos getting another great turn out of Colin Farrell as the film’s lead. Taking on an even more affected delivery and style, that seems standard in Lanthimos’ films at this point, Farrell is a cold and confident surgeon whose emotional distance makes the film’s ultimate endgame that much more hilarious. Deeply dark, but hilarious. Nicole Kidman is equally good, with warmth coming through her sometimes icy demeanor, but she really shines as the situation the family finds themselves in becomes all too real. Barry Keoghan steals the show though, as his weird and unnerving presence as Martin will not leave your mind any time soon. His performance is so unique and unsettling, and those dead eyes. Raffey Cassidy and Sunny Suljic star as the children of Farrell and Kidman, and they step up to the opportunity they are given, especially in the film’s finale. Both of them are so good when the film needs them to, nailing the humor and tone shifts as well as anyone in the cast.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer is not as amazing as Lanthimos’ last effort, The Lobster, but it is one of the best films of the year. Weird, funny and unlike just about anything you’ve ever seen, it is why we go to see Lanthimos’ films. Lanthimos has made four straight good to amazing films and has proven to be one of the most unique voices in cinema today. Do. Not. Miss.