Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos
Written by: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou
Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Rafey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic, Bill Camp
Runtime: 119 min
Yorgos Lanthimos brings us a metaphorical story about Dr. Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell), a well-known surgeon, and the link between his actions through life, his family and Martin (Barry Keoghan), a fatherless teenager who Steven is secretly taking care of.
As Martin becomes to being closer to the family, his true purpose unfolds and threatens the family's well-being as well as it sets Steven's past menacingly in check.
YorgosLanthimos is able to deliver a remarkably unconventional movie, packed with mystery, suspense and mind-blowing metaphors. I don't think I ever watched a film where the characters act like they do in The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Every character has an incredibly well-written script, they are all fully-developed through captivating dialogues and really amazing exposition scenes.
The casting is fantastic, everyone has high-level performances and the way the characters look and talk like is awkwardly similar compared to each other. Colin Farrell is the one that stands out due to the emotional explosion of the third act, but Nicole Kidman (Anna Murphy) and Bill Camp (Matthew Williams) are also exceptional.
However, the kids are absolutely phenomenal. Raffey Cassidy (Kim Murphy) and Sunny Suljic (Bob Murphy) portray Steve and Anna's children flawlessly, there are numerous moments where both of them truly shine. Barry Keoghan has probably his best performance to date. I find myself out of words to describe his display, but he goes way beyond himself and he completely embodies his character. He has a lot of shocking scenes, whether by something he does or simply by a suspenseful dialogue with Steven (his interactions with Farrell are very gripping and mysterious).
Yorgos uses the realistic cinematography to handle the camera in many unusual forms, filming dialogues with quite rare angles, and he has an excellent control of the suspense and tension boiling out of several scenes. The editing is seamless and the score is one of those that becomes memorable since it raises the movie so much that it becomes part of it. Without this soundtrack, I would certainly not appreciate this film as much as I do.
The screenplay is exposed to various interpretations. Mine allows me to enjoy most of the movie, but I am sure a lot of people might even hate this story. Every character's action is a symbol or a metaphor for something and their personalities are particularly interesting. It is very hard to explain since the whole film becomes a "life lesson" or a huge metaphor to something that happens a lot in real life (not in an exact way as in the movie, obviously). I will briefly explain my SPOILER interpretation of the story after my rating.
Now, this film is not perfect, far from it. Its tone might be well-controlled, but the story loses its interest midway through. The first act is super captivating, mysterious and even creepy, in a good way. However, the second act falls on its rhythm and it turns out a bit boring, mainly because most of the plot twists are rather predictable, so I have to spend almost a whole act waiting for the rest of the characters to find out something I already know for more than 30 minutes.
It might be a shocking and perplexing story, but its entertainment value is profoundly affected by the less good second act. It starts off great, it falls apart and then it picks itself up with a compelling yet expected ending. Steve's relationship with Martin is obviously linked to something else that I won't spoil and Steve's past is also something very anticipated.
All in all, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is the type of movie I usually love. It has mystery, suspense, plot twists and the story itself is open to various interpretations. Yorgos does a great job directing and co-writing this film, the characters are incredibly developed in a very unconventional way and the story is really captivating. The addictive score is one of the key elements of the success of this movie, every scene is elevated due to it. However, the second act falls on its pacing, the twists are predictable and the entertainment is not that high. Thankfully, it is not enough to take me out of the fantastic environment the film provides.
!!! SPOILER ALERT !!!
So, my interpretation of the story is that Martin is sort of a "God" figure, literally and figuratively. Dr. Steven killed his father during surgery negligently (he was drunk) and he denies doing it, lying to himself, his family and his co-workers. In order to compensate for his mistake, he tries to be a father-like figure to Martin but that makes things even worse (like in the movie, it is like rubbing an open wound, it is only going to hurt you more).
Martin has some kind of supernatural powers (literal "God") and he seeks justice, so everything is balanced out. There are a lot of metaphors in the film that points to this (Anna kissing his feet, for example). Steven has then to go through the dilemma of killing one family member to save the others or they all die. It is s a creepy way of proving the existence of "karma".