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Film / Dogtooth

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Dogtooth (2009) is a Greek arthouse drama directed by Yorgos Lanthimos that won the "Un Certain Regard" award at Cannes and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. A husband and wife keep their three adult-age children within the walls of their expansive country estate, warning them of the supposed dangers of the outside world. The parents explain that the children can leave only when their "dogtooth" (i.e. their canine) falls out. Having no other options, the kids spend their days engaging in strange games and learning about the world around them. Their only outside visitor is Christina, a security guard at the father's workplace, who is brought in for sexual interaction with the son. As she interacts with the children, she reveals concepts and introduces outside realities that spark their curiosity and tantalize them to escape.


This film provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents
  • All Men Are Perverts: The idea that men are innately sexual is recognized and subverted with the son. The whole reason Christina is brought in is to satisfy the son's presumed sexual needs, but he eventually rejects her.
  • Amateur Cast: Most of the actors haven't had much of an acting history, if at all. The director has stated that he prefers working with amateurs, as he finds their performances more pure.
  • Ambiguous Ending: After the eldest daughter knocks out her canine, she escapes and hides in the trunk of the car. The family goes out and tries to find her, but to no avail. The following morning, the father drives to work; the last shot is of the trunk of the car. Could also be considered as No Ending.
  • Animal Metaphor: When the father has the process of training a dog explained to him, it is exactly what he is doing to his children.
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  • Black Comedy
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Various examples crop up throughout the film, although the extent to which the kids recognize the significance of incest is zigzagged.
  • Enclosed Space: The estate.
  • Fan Disservice: The sex scenes - the ones between Christina and the son are joyless and clinical, while the other ones are squicky because of the incest and the innocence of the children, who don't understand the significance of the action.
  • Improvised Weapon: VHS tapes, taped to a hand, as well as a whole movie player later on.
  • Knight Templar Parent: Both of the parents, but especially the dad, who'll stop at nothing to protect his children from the dangers of the outside world.
  • Manchild: Played for drama with the children. All are sexually mature, in their late teens to early twenties, yet they act like children since they haven't been exposed to enough of the world to grow up. They invent games to pass the long days at home, and wrestle like little kids over toys. This trope is used to demonstrate the paralyzing effects of isolation from the real world.
  • Mood Whiplash: Zigzags between drama, horror, and comedy. One example is after the cat's death and the funeral for a departed brother, the father instruct the kids to get down on their knees and bark like dogs, which is pretty funny. It's startling to be laughing when you've just witnessed such a downer scene.
  • No Name Given: The mother, father and the three children. This becomes a plot point later in the film.
  • Platonic Cave
  • Sabotutor: The father manages to twist the children's vocabulary to his likings.
  • Shout-Out: After watching tapes Christine gives her, the oldest is constantly quoting movies that the film's director said he loved.
  • Small, Secluded World: The estate again.
  • Slice of Life: For the most part, although the plot does ramp up near the end.
  • SteadiCam: Most of the shots are rock-solid, to the point where characters' heads may be cut off because they don't happen to be in the frame. Switches to Shaky Cam for a few scenes and for most of the ending.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means
  • White Shirt of Death: Played with. To convince the children of the dangers of cats, the father splatters red paint on his white shirt and tears it, implying that a cat mauled him.
  • Women Are Wiser: The daughters are notably more motivated and intelligent than the son - in particular, the eldest daughter eventually finds a way to escape the estate.


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