Colin Farrell becomes a troublingly perfect Agamemnon in this new film by Yorgos Lanthimos. The film pushes reality so far and with such patient, systematic determination that it reveals truths that we all somehow know but no longer wish to acknowledge.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer opens grandly. An extended close-up of open-heart surgery, performed to the grave and moving music of one of Schubert’s Stabat Maters. Still looking? Keep looking now and you might still be able to keep on looking later on. The music and sound design will help keep you there, will seduce and hypnotise you.
Joachim Trier’s latest film Thelma, made with his long-term collaborators, writer Eskil Vogt, cinematographer Jakob Ihre and composer Ola Fløttum, marks a new development in the director’s career. His usual powerful existential themes remain, but Thelma represents a departure in other ways, perhaps presaged by Trier’s previous work, Louder than Bombs (2015), which had starred Isabelle Huppert.
In the stillness of a Norwegian winter, a father and child go hunting. They walk across a frozen lake, towards the woods. The child, a little girl, perhaps four years old, stops on the ice and looks down. She can see fish swimming, below the frozen surface, under her feet. What happens next is disquieting, dark, and unexplained. Much later, the full horror becomes clear.
Nightmare on 12th Street. July 1967, a sweltering summer in Detroit. The city erupts into rebellion. Looting, arson, snipers. The Detroit Police Department is overwhelmed. Governor George W. Romney (yes – Mitt’s father) calls in the Michigan National Guard. President Lyndon B Johnson, after some tactical deliberation, sends in troops from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. Michigan State Police join in. A curfew is imposed through the whole city. Five days later, after 7,200 arrests, 1,189 injured and 43 deaths, a calm of sorts is restored. Life will never be the same, and for some young people, there will be lasting trauma: their experience has been one of horror.
What better way to transcend harrowing guilt and grief, than to be immersed in a world of primal fear?