THE KILLING OF A SA­CRED DEER, psy­cho­log­i­cal hor­ror, rated R, Vi­o­let Crown,

Pasatiempo - - MOVING IMAGES - Dunkirk) The Lob­ster, The

The new film from Greek di­rec­tor Yorgos Lanthimos be­gins with a grue­some close-up of a beat­ing hu­man heart, ex­posed in the body of a pa­tient whose chest is wedged open with clamps. This heart, which we have plenty of time to size up, doesn’t look good. It’s fatty. Who­ever this is should have run a few laps once in a while. But it’s too late now. The im­age is re­volt­ing, and tak­ing it in is dif­fi­cult. Wel­come to Killing of a Sa­cred Deer.

The sur­geon in­volved is Steven, played by Colin Far­rell in a gray­ing beard that masks much of his face. After leav­ing the op­er­at­ing room, Steven chats idly with a col­league about wrist­watches. Then we see him meet­ing a pe­cu­liar young man named Martin (Barry Keoghan of

at a diner. Though the ba­nal dis­cus­sion of watches con­tin­ues, these two have a deeper con­nec­tion based on a shared his­tory. Much of the movie is spent un­rav­el­ing their past en­counter and its ram­i­fi­ca­tions for Steven, his wife Anna (Ni­cole Kid­man), their daugh­ter Kim (Raf­fey Cas­sidy), and their son Bob (Sunny Suljic).

Steven in­vites Martin home to meet the fam­ily, and ev­ery­thing goes well at first. Kim de­vel­ops a crush on Martin, but he seems in­ter­ested only in­so­far as their re­la­tion­ship dis­rupts the fam­ily’s dy­nam­ics. Like a bad penny, Martin be­gins show­ing up ev­ery­where in Steven’s life, drop­ping by the hospi­tal and “pass­ing through” Steven’s tony neigh­bor­hood. Mean­while, Bob falls ill, stricken with paral­y­sis from the waist down. As his son lan­guishes, bedrid­den, Steven in­sists re­peat­edly that, in his ex­pert med­i­cal opin­ion, “Bob is ab­so­lutely fine.” Tense mu­sic from Fin­nish ac­cor­dion­ist Janne Rät­tyä rum­bles and re­ver­ber­ates, un­der­cut­ting his note of con­fi­dence.

As in Lanthimos’ pre­vi­ous film, 2015’s the char­ac­ters speak in a flat, hushed way that shades the di­a­logue (co-writ­ten by the di­rec­tor and Efthymis Filip­pou), warp­ing and dis­tort­ing its emo­tional con­tent. The light­ing is cold and pale, as if the en­tire world is lit with of­fice flu­o­res­cents. As the story pro­gresses, it takes us into more shad­owy spa­ces. We come to un­der­stand that Steven’s in­ter­ac­tions with Martin have to do with the res­o­lu­tion of some­thing like a ter­ri­ble curse. Visu­ally and in a nar­ra­tive sense, this is a movie in which the light grad­u­ally goes dim. — Jeff Acker

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