Catch up with Oscar nominee ‘Dogtooth’

Posted by · 5:05 pm · January 27th, 2011

For those of us who like to make wholly informed decisions when entering our Oscar pools, the Best Foreign Language Film category can be a bit of a thorn in the side. Unless you’re a particularly well-travelled festivalgoer, it’s mighty difficult to see all five nominated films ahead of Oscar night.

This year is no exception, as two of them — the arguable frontrunners, “In a Better World” and “Incendies” — aren’t opening Stateside until April, while double-nominee “Biutiful” continues to creep out in limited release. The other two have been and gone in US theaters, but unless you’re lucky enough to live in one of a select few cities, chances are you didn’t see “Outside the Law” or “Dogtooth” either.

Thankfully, for the latter film, Nexflix has come to the rescue. Yorgos Lanthimos’s disquieting adult fable, which has received perhaps the most significant publicity boost in the wake of its eyebrow-raising nomination, is already out on DVD, but curious awards-watchers can now watch it instantly on the streaming site — simplifying at least some of your homework in that category.

Not that that’s the only reason to check “Dogtooth” out: it’s one of the best films nominated in any category at this year’s awards. Even if you don’t agree, it’s not an experience you’re likely to forget in a hurry — I was interested in Steve Pond’s observation that the film perhaps benefited from having its final committee screening before the voters retired for dinner, whereupon it proceeded to dominate mealtime conversation, gaining appreciation all the while. It’s that kind of movie.

So, if you still don’t know what the fuss is about, hurry off to Netflix. Then come back and tell us what you think. I’m genuinely interested to know how this odd-duck nominee goes down. (Since a couple of you have asked, my own brief take, from way back in October 2009, is here.)


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30 responses so far

  • 1 1-27-2011 at 5:19 pm

    Conor said...

    (I commented this in another post)

    I have a hard time buying it as an allegory on parenting, but surely it must have been about something. . . Either way, it was truly an original movie that didn’t bore me too much, and a few hours after watching it, I definitely thought about the implications of the disturbing sexual content. And it sure seems like a great movie to show people!

  • 2 1-27-2011 at 5:29 pm

    Brent said...

    It’s a fantastic film. It more fascinating through the beginning and midsection.

    But the ending is simply haunting. Fantastic last shot.

  • 3 1-27-2011 at 6:04 pm

    McAllister said...

    It was pretty good… but I’m not going to recommend it to my family and friends. I just don’t think it would go very far with the masses (obviously). At first I thought it tried to be much more unsettling than it was, but I see now that it was more of a dark comedy. I can also see myself liking it more as time goes on.

  • 4 1-27-2011 at 6:11 pm

    Graysmith said...

    It’ll be out on Blu-ray in the U.S. on March 29th for those demanding a higher quality presentation.

  • 5 1-27-2011 at 6:11 pm

    Brent said...

    @McAllister: It’s a huge grower. Steve Pond’s discussion of how it supposedly grew on the committee voters during dinnertime discussion really hits the nail on the head.

    It also really rewards multiple viewings.

  • 6 1-27-2011 at 6:15 pm

    Conor said...

    You think so, Brent? I was wondering if I’d get bored watching it another time or if the film would have the same effect. I’m not so sure though.

  • 7 1-27-2011 at 6:33 pm

    James D. said...

    I don’t know if it is my favorite movie of the year, but it is in my jumbled top five (I Am Love, Everyone Else, Dogtooth, Alamar, and The Social Network). It is probably the most interesting thing to come out of Greece in a long time.

  • 8 1-27-2011 at 6:55 pm

    Matthew Starr said...


    It’s in my top five as of now. The film brings up a lot of topics and can be seen as a parable in various ways,perhaps most importantly the importance of art and culture as the films she received were the spark that led to her escape.

  • 9 1-27-2011 at 6:56 pm

    Speaking English said...

    ***It’ll be out on Blu-ray in the U.S. on March 29th for those demanding a higher quality presentation.***

    A DVD on a Blu-ray player is going to look just as good.

  • 10 1-27-2011 at 7:10 pm

    Jackson said...

    Not really just as good… But pretty darn good nontheless.

  • 11 1-27-2011 at 7:13 pm

    Cinebrooding said...

    So, so different. Kind of hard to watch. Definitely good though.

  • 12 1-27-2011 at 7:22 pm

    Bryan said...

    To be honest, while I was never bored, I was rather apathetic about it all (which makes me wonder if I have a soul). I didn’t really feel it had a whole lot to say, and as far as shocking goes (besides the jump of the sudden movement of that dumbbell), I don’t think anything will jolt my this year like Black Swan.

    Though it certainly seems outside the scope or intention here, I think I would have made more of a connection if the motivations of the parents could have come into play. We really know nothing about them, except that the mother seems a little less keen on the whole thing than Papa.

    But I am interested; what exactly did y’all find moving or profound in it?

  • 13 1-27-2011 at 7:52 pm

    Jack said...

    Unfortunately, I kind of agree with Bryan. I definitely respected the craft of the movie and found it an interesting story, but when it ended, I didn’t really feel anything at all. I guess I want to know what those of you who really liked it thought the point was, or what the director was trying to do with it.

  • 14 1-27-2011 at 8:21 pm

    Justin said...

    You can catch “In a Better World” and “Incendies” at Sundance this year.

  • 15 1-27-2011 at 9:21 pm

    Glenn said...

    Guy is very much aware of my distaste for “Dogtooth”, but I have decided to give the film another try on DVD. For any Australians out there, it is released to “our Netflix” known as Quickflix on 16 Feb so I imagine that’s when you’ll find it in the “specialty interest” section of your local video store or JB Hifi shelves.

  • 16 1-27-2011 at 10:28 pm

    Squasher88 said...

    I kinda hated it when I watched it…but I did find myself thinking about it days after I’d seen it.

  • 17 1-28-2011 at 2:20 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    Just finished watching Dogtooth. Holy shit. That was *way* more unsettling that I thought it would be. Any critic who thought it was “funny” is a lot tougher than I am.

    I’m going to need a while to process how much I actually liked it, but it certainly shook me, and it KOs Inception in the ambiguous ending department.

  • 18 1-28-2011 at 3:26 am

    Samuel said...

    Off topic – I know it’s another language and all, but the way Biutiful is spelled hurts my eyes.

  • 19 1-28-2011 at 3:37 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Samuel: It’s not another language. It’s deliberate English misspelling.

  • 20 1-28-2011 at 5:23 am

    red_wine said...

    I just love it. It has stayed with me since the very time I saw it.

    It would be in my Top 5 as well (along with Everyone Else, Carlos, Enter The Void and A Prophet).

  • 21 1-28-2011 at 6:30 am

    Graysmith said...

    @Speaking English,

    True. If you have a small tv, that is.

  • 22 1-28-2011 at 6:40 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    How small is small?

  • 23 1-28-2011 at 6:57 am

    Mike_M said...

    An up-converted DVD will never look as a good as a Blu-ray, if the TV is prob under 40 inches I bet the difference will be negligible though since you really cant notice true 1080p on a TV that small (from a normal viewing distance) , but lets not forget one of the advantages of Blu-ray is uncompressed audio, so the audio will not be as good.

    Watched it last night, I really liked it, haunting I would love to have listened to a conversation with the parents before they had kids and why they choose to do this. Last shot is indeed great. Great framing in the movie to, interesting camera placement.

    Biutiful finally opens up in the States today, prob wont get to it soon, I am going to see The Way Back for sure this weekend.

  • 24 1-28-2011 at 7:25 am

    psychonappy said...

    Okay, let me just say I’m a DOGTOOTH fan. I’m always looking for more people who have seen it, so I regularly search for comments.

    From what I’ve read online, it’s clear most people do not understand the film. It seems the focus is on the big, obvious happenings, not the tiny variables that have more cultural relevance than trite and overly-lauded films like THE SOCIAL NETWORK and INCEPTION.

    I dunno, I’m starting to think maybe it’s because the viewers are the very people Lanthimos lambastes in his absurdist parable.

  • 25 1-28-2011 at 8:25 am

    Joel said...

    Is “Dogtooth” excessively violent/gory? I am wondering if two of my friends whom I’d like to watch it with will run away screaming?!?

  • 26 1-28-2011 at 8:30 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    No, it’s not gory — the film’s violence is largely internal — but if your friends are cat lovers, they may want to shield their eyes at one point.

  • 27 1-28-2011 at 9:09 am

    Mike_M said...

    Very true about the cat Guy… I could also see how to some, the 2nd to last scene of the movie could be slightly gory/violent to, but it is at the end and very important so I think they wont mind to much being only around 10-15 min left of the film.

  • 28 1-28-2011 at 9:27 am

    red_wine said...

    The scene that you mention Mike_M is the single most horrifying scene of the movie. I winced but I also almost had tears in my eyes at what the scene was implying. No audience member leaves this movie unscathed.

  • 29 1-28-2011 at 11:36 am

    Cordy said...

    I caught up with it the other night, and I loved it. I did find it hysterical though, so I don’t know what that says about me.

    It’s one of those that I want to tell people to see, but even if this film was in english most people would hate it, then you have the barrier of subtitles for some to get over.

    I agree with the implication art has on the ending, however I think that has to do with the context within which the art was viewed, as she viewed it just as a film of someone’s life even though it was just a story. It is very similar to how most of what she believes is just a bunch of stories, however it couldnt be more real to her. In fact, thinking about it in that context it could be stating something about taking that art too seriously in general (partcularly entertainment like Jaws and Rocky), and proving that this film should be seen as an excercise in artistic realism and pure entertainment, although that would be missing many other points it makes.

  • 30 2-09-2011 at 1:08 pm

    Melissa Pérez said...

    I’m so glad I saw it last month at Houston’s Museum Of Fine Art. So glad they showed it. Houston’s MFA rocks. ‘Dogtooth’ was Hysterical non the least. Not even my friend from Greece was ready for this one I almost think he got embarrassed. Definitely Oscar worthy.