From the opening shot of open heart surgery being performed with Schubert’s Stabat Mater in the background we are pulled into a surreal and dark world inhabited by strange characters. The Killing is the latest film by Yorgos Lanthimos whose previous work was the excellent and well received The Lobster. There are similarities between the two films, such as the deadpan delivery of dialogue and elements of dark comedy, a common thread in Lanthimos work, but The Killing is not The Lobster.
The Killing takes us into the life of renowned heart surgeon Steven Murphy played by Colin Farrell and his relationship with his wife Anna (Nicole Kidman), son Bob (Sunny Suljic), daughter Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and teenager Martin played by Barry Keoghan. It is the relationship between Steven and Martin that leads Steven (a man of science) into a world of chaos and dilemmas.
The story is loosely based on the Greek tragedy of Iphigenia, which involves a death of a sacred deer, though the deer is more metaphorical here.
The film excels in its casting with Farrell’s restrained anger and agony complimenting Kidman’s piercing, collective matriarch, but it is worth the ticket price alone to see Keoghan’s performance of Martin. He is unsettling, ruthless, vulnerable and mesmerising to watch, the scenes in the basement showcasing his talent.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a strange film, it cannot be classed as a black comedy, or a art house film nor a horror, there are scenes reminiscent of Kubrick with its long shots and chilling music, but it also contains Lanthimos deadpan delivery, The film leaves you with a dilemma, do you care enough of the characters to want to watch the film? yes and no, but do you want to see what happens in the end? Yes, yes you do.