Yorgos Lanthimos‘s The Killing of a Sacred Deer was lightly booed when it finished screening in Cannes this morning, and with ample justification. It’s a cold, odious and deeply repellent film. It’s the kind of thing that only Lanthimos fans could like, and even then it wouldn’t be easy. I wouldn’t wish this slog of a film upon my worst enemy.
Deer begins with a certain robotic intrigue that slowly begins to simmer and darken. It’s basically about the lives of heart surgeon Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) and wife Ana (Nicole Kidman) along with their two kids, Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and Bob (Sunny Suljic), being upended by Martin (Barry Keoghan), a teenager whose obsession with avenging his father’s death, which was caused by an operating-table error on Murphy’s part.
The more Martin gets his hooks into Murphy the darker and weirder things get, but it’s something you have to force yourself to stay with in the final lap. I stuck it out, but I wouldn’t see The Killing of a Sacred Deer a second time with a knife at my back.
Irish-born Barry Koeghan as “Martin” in Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer.
Don’t know the actor who played the psychopathic “Ernie” in The Parallax View, but he could be Keoghan’s smoother, better-looking dad. Hell, he’s almost good-looking in a conventional sense. And yet Alan Pakula cast him because his features conveyed, by mid ’70s standards, something scary and threatening.
To gauge the malevolence of this enterprise, look no further than the casting of the Irish-born Keoghan as Martin.
Visually speaking Keoghan is an unpleasant guy to hang with. I’m sorry but it’s true. He exudes creepy by just walking into a room. He has evil wolf-like eyes and one of those ridiculous bee-stung noses, bulbous and swollen like something drawn by R. Crumb, the kind of Beagle Boy dog nose that used to scream “low rent” before common, coarse features became a kind of hip thing among 21st Century casting directors.
If you doubt this, consider the guy who played “Ernie,” a non-verbal homicidal psychopath in Alan Pakula‘s The Parallax View (’74). I don’t know the actor’s name but Pakula obviously cast him because of his wolf eyes and creepy vibes. The resemblance between “Ernie” and Keoghan is obvious, but the latter is actually a better looking fellow than Keoghan, largely because his nose is innocuous. Be honest — which actor would seem less threatening if they were to stand side by side?
On top of which we’re asked to believe that Alicia Silverstone, who hit the big four-oh on 10.4.16, is Keoghan’s mom. I’m sorry but that wouldn’t be genetically possible. I know it’s tiresome to bring this up, but in the real world parents and children actually resemble each other to some extent. Silverstone is a drop-dead beautiful, milk-fed WASPy blonde who couldn’t have given birth to Keoghan if she had mated with Satan himself.
And that, no offense, is all I have to say about The Killing of a Sacred Deer.