Monday, March 24, 2014

Bad Education — Dogtooth (Review)

First off, the idea of watching 'Dogtooth' gave me the fright. The reviews that I've read and the trailer in itself were discomforting, but knowing I have seen worse and the fact that it is critically acclaimed makes me feel like I'm missing out on something. But where in real life I could have cowered in a safety net, I always take the opposite route for my love of cinema. 

Scary movies, with malevolent spirits and monstrous faces -- or thriller as we call it, is probably one of the genres much revered by audiences. What makes them such a hit is because they gave us the experience of leaving our comfort zones without literally evacuating our reality. We enjoy the rush, the feeling of being scared or at least the mindset of fear -- as long as it doesn't jump out of the screen. Scary movies for what it's worth, are mostly figments of art that swims in the realm of the fantastic.

When you leave the theater or press the stop button of your player I doubt you'll be saying that this movie is impossible. The news affirmed it daily that crazy people are out there. Things you could only fathom in your imagination is probable in reality. The truth is, we love those make-believe, scripted and choreographed scary movies because they are actually less frightening than the scariest movie of all time: our life. Dogtooth, however, is not a scary movie. It is a nightmare captured on celluloid.

We live in a world where certain people runs things, may it be in the government, companies, or an obscure little household located in the middle of nowhere -- it's always a given that there is a person controlling the rules of that particular place. When we are young our parents are in charge of everything regarding our lives -- the food that we eat, the clothes that we wear, the words that we use, the music we listen to, the television programs we view and the books that we read. Our chance to make our own own choices and to pick the things that we like or dislike is develop as we grow older and is mainly shapened and influenced by our social experiences. If the latter is missing then our sense of identity will be fractured and we will merely be a tool for the helmer, believing and following obediently their words like it was some holy scripture. 

Dogtooth is a B.F. Skinner experiment; it is a movie that shows us what it would be like if you raised and confined three siblings in a house out of earshot from the prying eyes of neighbors while they were being taught of incorrect words for objects and concepts, and were made to believe that danger would befall on them if they leave the premises of their home, and the only time they would be equipped and ready to venture outside their compound is when they lost their dogtooth (or canine). 

If you ask me, this is North Korea, or probably those countries and religious cults wherein the leaders' secludes their people and rejects the influence of the outside world, replacing it with the notion of false reality. The idea and the politics behind "brainwashing" is the central depiction of the film, not violence. In my opinion, this movie is the closest thing that we're gonna get from seeing what it's like behind the walls of an artificial bubble grounded on lies by some exacting and methodical minds. 

At the end of the day, it is a real pleasure to watch this movie. Yorgos Lanthimos -- whatever is running through your head, I salute you. I believe that movies like these is an acid test of sorts to truly know your love for the cinema. And I think I passed. It is a gift, and I'm taking it with both hands. 

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