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The Killing of a Sacred Deer

“The Killing of a Sacred Deer”(2017)

Drama/Thriller/Mystery

Studio A24

**** out of five stars

Heart-wrenching is what «The Killing of a Sacred Deer» is with irony of a doctor performing open-heart surgery in the opening scenes. Doctor Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) is seen in a beautiful hospital standing outside his office talking to a teenage boy named Martin (Barry Keogham) who has made an unscheduled visit to see the doctor. Apparently, Steven is the one who operated on his father; who, sadly, has deceased. Steven takes an interest in Martin, a kid seemingly with few friends, a classic loner, someone in need for another person to talk to since his father is gone. Steven invites the lad over to his house to meet his ophthalmologist wife Anna (Nicole Kidman), and children,12-year old Bob (Sunny Suljic) and 14-year-old Kim (Raffey Cassidy). Martin takes up the invitation at the Murphys’ house with “normal” interactions.

There is one scene in the movie where a watch may or may not be a key to Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ (“The Lobster”) enigmatic, dark, oddball film. One of the characters says about a watch, “I prefer a metal strap.” (Alfred Hitchcock often uses a bird, such as in “The Birds” and “Topaz” for something ominous to follow.) When Steven visits Martin’s house, meeting his mom (Alicia Silverson) all three watch the movie, “Groundhog Day”. By this time, the film enters into strange to very strange, especially when Martin leaves the room leaving Steven and Martin’s mom alone. She tries to seduce him, but he takes off never to accept another invitation.

Martin vacillates between a weird stilted personality and to a psychological vengeful personality. One can only guess Martin is on a trail that creates serious problems which makes “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” a vibrate thriller, a terrifying, haunting film telling the audience in subtle ways: be careful who one embraces as a friend. And if there is any comparison to other directors with enigmatic, thought-provoking themes one can watch Michael Haneke films, or Chan-wook Park, or take one of David Lynch’s works. Both Steven and Martin’s lives become interwoven for the worst. Just look at director Barrbet Schroeder’s 1992 movie “Single White Female “to see how appearances can be deceiving, yes, even down a deadly path.

The title “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” is a metaphor from Greek mythology when Agamemnon wants to send his ships to Troy, but because of no wind the ships couldn’t get there. In turn he pleads to the gods to cause strong winds to carry his ships to Troy. The gods say they will send the winds only if he sacrifices his daughter. But just as he is about to carry out the act, the gods turn his daughter into a deer. Then Agamemnonas kills a sacred deer.

Cast: Colin Farrell (Dr. Steven Murphy), Nicole Kidman Anna Murphy), Barry Keogham (Martin), Alicia Silverland (Martin’s Mother), Raffey Cassidy (Kim), Bill Camp (another doctor), Denise Dal Vera (Mary Williams), Sunny Suljic (Bob). (R) Director: Yorgos Lanthimos. Running time: 119 minutes. Written by: Yorgos Lanthimos.

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