Dogtooth (DVD Review)22 Jan, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Box Office $0.09 million
In Greek with English subtitles.
Stars Christos Stergioglou, Michelle Valley, Hristos Passalis, Aggeliki Papoulia, Mary Tsoni, Christine Anna Kalaitzidou.
Independent Dogtooth is a cautionary (yet entertaining) tale of home schooling — on crack.
In the 2009 Cannes winning film (Un Certain Regard category), the concept of educating children in the home is taken to extremes by a lumpish father (Christos Stergioglou) — a middle-aged authoritarian who has ensconced his three young-adult children (apparently since birth) in a comfortable home with a large backyard, swimming pool and surrounded by a giant wall with locked entry in the Greek countryside.
The stunted children — a young man (Hristos Passalis) in his 20s and two girls in their late teens (attractive Aggeliki Papoulia, Mary Tsoni) — recite poems and engage in contests (often quite physical and punishing), with the winner allowed to decide the evening’s family activities, among other privileges.
With no access to a TV (other than family videos), radio, telephone, Internet or other human beings, the outside world to the children — chaperoned daily by their complicit mother (Michelle Valley) — is limited to the frequent commercial airplane high in the sky, birds in the trees and wayward “man-eating” cat. With the parents diabolically planting toy airplanes on the lawn or in the pool, the siblings often yell possession of a passing plane should it “fall” from the sky.
The father disappears and returns each day from a factory he owns, supplying the family with the requisite groceries, clothing, household items and disciplined structure needed to live a commune lifestyle.
The manufactured utopia begins to unravel when the father employs on occasion a female guard (Christine Anna Kalaitzidou), who is blindfolded and driven from his factory to sexually satisfy his indifferent son. Both emotionally vacant parents engage in perfunctory sex while listening to music on headphones or watching porn.
With foreplay and sexual nuances of the female form an unknown concept in this household, the guard soon seduces the older daughter with gifts for properly directed “licks.”
Needless to say, one “lick” leads to another, and soon the lid is off this Pandora’s box of dystopian dysfunction. Look out.