Quick Hit: How are you at ancient myths?
Iphigenia, or the story or her, is where the title comes from. I had to Google that, so don’t think I’m that awesome. Essentially, Agamemnon kills one of Artemis’s sacred deer and so she is set to ruin attack on Troy … and tells him he must sacrifice his daughter to replace her deer. So, with that knowledge, and knowledge of Yorgos Lanthimos other films (like The Lobster), keep in mind that this movie is a bit strange.
The plot is a bit hard to follow at first. Steven (complete side note – how many doctors out there are called Steve in movies? Someone has got to look into this – Doctor Strange) is a cardiologist (played by Collin Farrell). His wife is a successful ophthalmologist (Nicole Kidman). Their life with their two children (played by Raffey Cassidy and Sunny Suljic respectively) seems ideal, even if there’s some strange taboo stuff going on behind doors.
With the entry of Martin (Barry Keoghan), everything changes. I will not dive too far into the plot from here, suffice it to say that things happen to the family leading our hero to make choices that will define his character further.
This movie begins much like The Lobster, with characters delivering stilted dialogue to each other in a stiff manner. Both Kidman and Farrell excel at this, and having starred opposite each other twice in one year (The Beguiled) seems to have helped their chemistry. But whereas I believe Farrell outshined his costar in Beguiled, Kidman shines brighter here. Her slow recognition and acceptance of the problems that they faced is a master craft in acting performance. I’d also like to recognize Keoghan here – who brings a terrific weirdness and energy to the role of Martin. What could have been played strictly for laughs or scares comes across as both, and he really drives the story forward on a number of occasions.
The film is shot in a very aloof style to begin, but as the story thickens, so does Lanthimos’s camerawork. We increase the amount of close-ups, we increase the amount of camera angles, and it all accents the work that the actors are doing. It’s very good work.
But, I think this comes with some of the same issues as The Lobster. Though the stilted dialogue is being performed on purpose, it robs the story of momentum, particularly in scenes that should have more of an impact. The story also has some zigs and zags that I didn’t really think make sense. As the film goes, I found myself consistently watching… but I wasn’t invested. The character’s aloofness pushed me away to the point where I wasn’t concerned with the kids’ and their ailment, or Steven’s mental fortitude, or the relationship between him and Anna. It all just is kind of… eh. *Shrugs*
So in the end, despite the fact the movie is well-made, I can’t give it a totally great grade. There needs to be a certain level of investment past the technical aspects to go there. I’m giving the film a “B-”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"