INTO DARK­NESS

Twisted? Maybe. Bleak? Def­i­nitely. Di­rec­tor Yor­gos Lan­thi­mos is back with an­other off-kil­ter drama

Empire (Australasia) - - Preview - WORDS DO­RIAN LYNSKEY THE KILLING OF A SA­CRED DEER IS IN CIN­E­MAS FROM 16 NOVEM­BER AND IS RE­VIEWED ON PAGE 33

YOR­GOS LAN­THI­MOS KNOWS his work is di­vi­sive but he doesn’t quite know why. When The Killing Of A Sa­cred Deer, the Greek di­rec­tor’s first film since his un­cat­e­goris­ably strange English-lan­guage de­but The Lob­ster, de­buted at Cannes it was met with both ap­plause (and a Best Screen­play award) and boos. In the re­views, rap­tur­ous com­par­isons to Kubrick and Haneke rubbed up against ac­cu­sa­tions of sadism.

“I’m al­ways sur­prised when peo­ple are scan­dalised and shocked by things that we’ve been deal­ing with since the be­gin­ning of time,” Lan­thi­mos says ami­ably, scratch­ing his beard. “We live in a time when there’s a lot of con­ser­vatism around.”

His first Amer­i­can pro­duc­tion is a ter­ri­fy­ing, enig­matic psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller with an­cient res­o­nances. It be­gan as the story of a trou­bled teenager who takes re­venge on a wealthy sur­geon, played by The Lob­ster’s Colin Far­rell. Lan­thi­mos and his reg­u­lar co-writer Efthymis Filip­pou took in­spi­ra­tion from the Greek tragedy of Iphi­ge­nia, sac­ri­ficed by her fa­ther Agamem­non to ap­pease Artemis af­ter he ac­ci­den­tally killed one of the god­dess’ sa­cred deer. “I don’t know if it’s a tragedy in a strict sense of the form,” he says. “But the way we use the word to­day? I guess it’s a tragedy.”

In other hands, the re­venge plot might lead to a stan­dard cuckoo-in-the-nest thriller, but ev­ery com­po­nent of Lan­thi­mos’ un­mis­take­able style — the dead­pan line read­ings, the un­set­tling use of mu­sic, the mys­te­ri­ous eli­sions in the plot — is de­signed to cre­ate am­bi­gu­ity. “I make films in the way that I like to see films,” he says. “I never like it when things are pre­sented as black and white: this is good, this is bad.

I don’t want to be con­sid­ered an id­iot and told what is what. I want to be in­trigued.”

When dis­cussing his work, his favourite word is “dif­fer­ent”.

Lan­thi­mos’ rep­u­ta­tion at­tracts big-name tal­ent. Ni­cole Kid­man and Ali­cia Sil­ver­stone star along­side Far­rell, while his Queen An­neera pe­riod drama The Favourite, cur­rently in post-pro­duc­tion, fea­tures Emma Stone, Olivia Col­man and Rachel Weisz. Ac­tors are al­ready at­tuned to his unique tone and, he says, they have a good time. Even a film as nerve-wrack­ing to watch as The Killing Of A Sa­cred Deer was en­joy­able to make. “It’s ba­si­cally a com­edy when you ob­serve it from afar: all these grown-ups do­ing weird things,” he says. “It is fun. If the stress of try­ing to get things done wasn’t there,

I’d be hav­ing fun as well.”

Above: The Beguiled co-stars Ni­cole Kid­man and Colin Far­rell re­unite. Here: Di­rec­tor Yor­gos Lan­thi­mos on set.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.