The Killing of a Sacred Deer
The Killing of a Sacred Deer is the latest entry in Yorgos Lathinos’ cinematic universe. Populated by the same stilted dialogue and dry humor in his previous work, Lathinos’ utilizes his idiosyncratic style to deliver a cold exercise in tension and suspense.
A surgeon’s contact with a former patient’s son grows increasingly close. When the relationship uncomfortably spreads to surgeon’s family, he severs ties. Soon he’s thrown into a difficult situation that can only end with a more difficult action.
Sacred Deer is the type of film that will spark discussions and interpretations. Where one may see an absurd, pitch black take on the methodology of science and its failures; others can spot a modern parable not far from the likes of Aesop or the Bible. What is hardly subjective though, is Lathinos’ skill in transforming the tone of the film with razor-like precision. Tweaking back and forth between the limits of comedy, tragedy, and bleakness, the tension at play almost works too well. Long after the film had ended, I felt as if I was still watching it.
Great performances from the cast serve as a foundation, a kind of tonal constant. The almost mechanical performances of the script allow Lanthinos to play with subtle changes that span to great effect. A turn of phrase used to mine comedy or glance that imparts sinister consequence, these interactions allow the film to entertain while simultaneously create an atmosphere of suspense. Paired in part with an equally evocative score, Sacred Deer is primed to span extremes, and when it crosses them, it can be overwhelming.
The rising nature of the film is done so well, that many may feel the handling of its resolution is not enough. It is hard to imagine the amount of material needed to provide resolution— dancing around the subject, maybe that’s the point.