Toronto International Film Festival Day 3

Posted 11 September 2017

killing of a sacred deer



Two brief reports from films I caught over the weekend!

Yorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster was something of a love-it-or-hate-it movie and his new film The Killing Of A Sacred Deer will equally split audiences down the middle. Like its predecessor, TKOASD features Colin Farrell, who here gives a blank, deadpan performance as Steven, a heart surgeon who speaks in blank, deadpan sentences. He frequently meets an adolescent boy, Martin (Barry Keoghan), for blank, deadpan conversations mostly about watch straps. So, as you can see, Lanthimos has created another disturbing, dislocated and distanced ambience for this film - and you have no idea where things are not going to go next.

After Steven invites Martin to his home to meet his equally blank wife Anna (played by Nicole Kidman) and his two children, things spiral completely out of control. Martin is seemingly a Bartleby-like character but as he insinuates himself onto Steven's home and household the takes the story on an increasingly dark and absurdly humorous turn. The less you know about the film the better - and don't worry I've only talked about its opening ten minutes! As it progresses it throws plenty of shocks and surprises at you, the only problem is you're not always sure you whether you should laugh or scream when they occur!

The German director Robert Schwentke has spent the past decade or so working in Hollywood on big budget action movies such as Red and the Divergent trilogy, he returns to his native country for something rather different with The Captain, a harrowing depiction of the final days of Nazi Germany. Following Private Herold (Max Hubacher), a Wehrmacht deserter, who chances upon an abandoned vehicle containing food and an immaculate Nazi officer's uniform that (almost) fits him, we are taken on a ghastly odyssey through the last days of the Reich. Herold, impersonating an officer, gathers around himself a private army of deserters and stragglers who quickly enact on the worst extremes of Nazi atrocity as they cut a bloody swathe through an almost apocalyptic landscape.

This was the first ever screening of the film and the Q&A that followed it featured a number of cast members who seemed shell-shocked from the experience - whether this was due to the impact of the film or that much of their screentime might have ended up on the cutting room floor was not clear. The film certainly has some powerful moments and its B&W photography is stunning but I couldn't help feeling that Schwentke might need another edit or two to get the film into better shape.

Martin Carter

Principal Film Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, Martin regularly gives lectures and courses at The Showroom Cinema in Sheffield.Read more posts by Martin Carter


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