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The Killing of a Sacred Deer


Year: 2017 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos 
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Alicia Silverstone  
An image from The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Watching any of Yorgos Lanthimos’ films is always a unique experience. This of course holds true for his latest directorial achievement, the distressing, disturbing and haunting psychological thriller The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

Barry Keoghan, the young Irish actor who some might recognise from his brief, piteous appearance in Dunkirk, delivers one of the best and most chilling performances of the year in his role as Martin, a mentally disturbed teenage boy who, after losing his father on the operating table, seeks ‘revenge’ against Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell), the cardiothoracic surgeon who performed the deadly surgery. Martin’s idea of justice is pretty much that of an eye for an eye; a death in the Murphy family appears to him as the only way to even out the losses. Steven, to prevent the death of his whole family, needs to kill one of its members to pay for the death of Martin’s father.

Once again, the screenplay written by Lanthimos and his long-time collaborator Efthymis Filippou is a grandiose blend of wit and weird: the lines, each brilliantly delivered with the blandness and detachment typical of the characters’ speech in Lanthimos’ work, are always short, unexpected outbursts of eccentricity. The unique writing style functions in perfect harmony with the cool-toned colour scheme and the alternation between wide-angle shots and bird’s eye views of the scenes to create and sustain a sense of uneasiness and discomfort all the way through. It is this alarming uneasiness that makes Lanthimos’ latest achievement an incredible success: with such a simple premise, not many films would be capable of playing with the audience’s mind the way The Killing of a Sacred Deer does. It is a hard one to forget.

Marta Meazza

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Screenings of this film:

2017/2018 Spring Term (digital)