The film Dogtooth was directed by the acclaimed Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos. His other films include Alps, The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and Oscar-winning The Favourite. With deeply woven dark comedy, Lanthimos is able to create situations that put the audience into a state of unease, where they are still able to laugh.
He makes the most uncomfortable moments some of the funniest; a constant feeling of laughing at what shouldn’t be laughed at. With an eye for tension, Lanthimos also creates beautifully directed and shot scenes that exude effort. The more you pay attention, the more funnier and the darker the scenes become. They cross a point where you don’t know whether to laugh or sit back because of the usually disturbing imagery. Not to say the comedy hampers the tone of the movie. No, in a way, the combination of these two ideas clashes in a brilliant way. Because the viewer doesn’t know how to react, which makes them think. Dogtooth makes them think. With allegories to both fascism and patriarchism, Yorgos Lanthimos depicts the faults in fascism and aggressive patriarchism in order to show why both fail and why we can’t have either of them in the modern age.
Fascism works because of many factors. One of them is misinformation, or purposefully giving the citizens of your nation incorrect information or not enough information for them to live full lives. Because of hampering their knowledge, it keeps them from trying to actually learn more about the world. Dogtooth shows this brilliantly through the slight contrasts between the younger brother and sister, and the older sibling. They have a difference in ideals that make them who they are. The eldest wants to fight, to dance, to love, to learn. The other siblings want to learn what they can; they want to do what their parents tell them to do. While the eldest also strives to please her parents, that is not her main objective in the movie. Her objective is a strive to fulfill passions she possesses: dance, movies, learning.
All their lives, their mother and father have controlled them. They never had a normal life, having stayed at home forever. They can only leave when their adult canines fall out - their dogtooth. Because they believe the information handed to them, the father effectively controls them. Along with this misinformation, the clearer example is the blatant misteaching of words. Phone is a salt shaker. A woman’s private part is the light switch. A zombie is a small yellow flower. They twist everything to their advantage and to improve the already strong control over their kids. They use misinformation as a form of control.
Along with the use of misinformation, the parents also use physical force to control their kids. As a substitution for fascist armies, the parents beat up their adult kids and people that threaten their way of life. They keep control through the use of physical power, shown by when the dad goes to a specific person’s house and slams a radio into her head. He then tells her that he wants her kids’ lives to suck as much as possible. Along with that brutal, disturbing, enigmatically shot scene, there is another scene personally more effective. The father beats the eldest daughter with a tape she handed over to him. He smacks her head with it, and this leads to her trying harder to rebel against the fascist regime the parents have imposed upon her and her siblings.
By using misinformation and short bursts of toxic patriarchal power, Dogtooth depicts the inner workings and flaws of fascism. It depicts how citizens will always notice something wrong with their country, their homeland, their house. Dogtooth makes this all tolerably light and disturbingly dark; this creates a very enjoyable, meandering movie that I adore. The comedy, similar to the comedy in Lanthimos' The Lobster, is laugh-out-loud funny, but it isn’t happy or normal comedy. It’s the kind of abnormal, almost absurd comedy you feel bad for laughing at. That’s why I love this and The Lobster. That’s my favorite kind of comedy, especially when compared with the smart use of satire as well as an incredible deadpan.
Dogtooth is a brilliant satire of fascism and patriarchism; however, it won’t be there or be visible until you look into it. It’s brilliant at pointing out how citizens won’t obey peacefully forever. Even if you misinform them or beat them, they’ll find a way, just like the eldest sibling in the film - she finds her way out. Her way out was repeatedly smacking her teeth with a small weighted dumbbell. This made the “dogtooth” fall out, as well as other teeth, and then she was ‘allowed’ to leave. With the newfound power the eldest sibling feels, she takes a huge risk. She hides in the dad’s car for the next time he will go to work. They look frantically for her, but they can’t find her except for remnants of her teeth in a sink. Dogtooth is a must-see for any film fan, and it has many layers that a viewer can pull back without having to read too far into.
The score is virtually nonexistent, and the only music is very controlled similar to how the family controls the adult kids. The cinematography is very odd and unique to the film itself while also displaying the situation in a very objective way. It’s a very enjoyable movie if you’re in the mood for a meandering, brilliant, dark, hilarious, disturbing, and excellent dark drama with comedy.