Dogtooth has been nominated for an academy award for Best Foreign Language FIlm of the year. A winner at Cannes, a winner at Dublin, a winner at Montreal, a winner at Sarajevo, a winner at Stockholm, a winner at Sitges…can it be another film of the same name? That it’s disturbing doesn’t bother me. That is depicts a paranoid family in shocking ways doesn’t bother me. That its clinically perverse doesn’t bother me. That it fails to go anywhere other than into its own navel does bother me. For a film that is billed as a dark comedy, the only scenes I found funny were a few that I don’t think were supposed to be, at least on initial viewing. I assume no cats were harmed in the making of this motion picture – but I couldn’t swear to it.
The film starts out with a lesson on newspeak. Meanings of words are not as we know them in this family lesson. Odd. But soon we get what’s going on. The family (husband and wife, and three emotionally stunted-adult children) – two sisters and a brother, are virtually hostages in their own home. Although the father goes off to work each morning, the rest of the family never leaves the property.
This is family values run amok. Listen, there is layer upon layer in this film that could easily be dissected (it’s not that hard) and studied. Replaying it in my mind, I see all of the ‘humorous’ scenes, and can appreciate them after the fact. But frankly, I wasted enough time just watching it. It’s wide and shallow. There is no there there. The Emperor has no clothes. Like that.