Barry Keoghan & Colin Farrell shine in psychological thriller

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This film is certainly not for everyone, so if you’re not interested in psychological thrillers and dystopian films, choose Bad Moms 2 instead.

The opening scene of Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, greets us with open-heart surgery. The bare image of the heart beating is creepy, dark, yet at the same time, it sets the tone for the rest of the movie.

We’re then introduced to Dr Steven Murphy, a successful heart surgeon played by Irishman Colin Farrell. Similar to Lanthimos’ film, The Lobster, Farrell plays his role with an eerie, robotic tone of voice. In The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Farrell seemingly has it all – a big house, a great job, a beautiful wife (played by Nicole Kidman) and two teenage children.

In The Lobster, Lanthimos showcased Colin Farrell as a weak character, who was relying on love to save him. In The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Farrell is far from weak. His character Steven exudes confidence, he is well respected amongst his medical peers and he believes that he has done no wrong in life. Well, at least that’s how it looks to the viewer.

Lurking in the background of this idyllic world is a troublesome teenage boy, Martin, who is played by Barry Keoghan. Steven gives a lot of time to Martin; treating him to lunches and buying him expensive watches. To the viewer, it looks as though Martin may be the product of an affair that Steven had 16 years ago. However, their relationship is not built on love, but built on guilt.

Some years ago, Steven was reliant on alcohol. He performed some heart surgeries under the influence. One of these surgeries involved Martin’s father, who later died on the operating table. Martin, the blue-eyed innocent boy that we saw at the start of the film, is quietly biding his time.

Steven’s two teenage children, Bob and Kim (played by Sunny Sulijic and Raffey Cassidy) mysteriously become paralysed from the waist down one day. There is no medical science out there that can explain their illnesses. Yet, Martin knows. It is then up to heart surgeon Steven to make a sacrifice. An eye for an eye comes to mind.

The cast of The Killing of a Sacred Deer are excellent in how they act. Colin Farrell plays the ever-confident surgeon well. Similar to The Lobster, he is one of the stand-out characters of the film.

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Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell in The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Credit: Curzon Artificial Eye

Nicole Kidman, who plays Farrell’s wife, Anna, compliments his role. In the same robotic tone as Farrell, she plays a character who strives for perfection for her family. Yet, at the same time, she is willing to sacrifice all that for herself and her husband.

The performances of Steven and Anna’s two teenage children compliment the storyline. Scenes showing their paralysis are hard to watch, yet intriguing at the same time.

The actor that stole the movie’s attention was Barry Keoghan, who played the character of Martin. His unpredictability always made the viewer wonder where he’d be next, what he’d do next and what he’d say next. He is the one character that will hold your interest throughout the film. Any time he spoke or acted mysteriously, it was hard to pull yourself away from the seemingly innocent blue-eyed boy. His performance stole the show from beginning to end.

This film comes with one big fault. It runs for two hours long. Halfway through the film, the viewer has a fair idea of what’s going on and there’s absolutely no need for another hour. This film would have been sufficient to run for 90 minutes. It felt like it was slowly dragging on until the end. When you’ve paid good money to see the movie, that’s the last thing you need.

Overall, apart from the over-exaggerated time frame, I’d give this movie a 4/5. Yorgos Lanthimos and his team obviously spent much time perfecting these characters, perfecting this setting and plot and it shows. The music used in scenes is creepy, perfectly matching the tone of the movie. The way in which the cameras were poised to follow characters, spy on characters and engage with characters was an excellent tool to create a sinister atmosphere.

Nothing about The Killing of a Sacred Deer is for the faint-hearted. But, if you wonder whether everything is as perfect in life as it seems, this film is a must watch.

By Leanne Salmon

The trailer of the film can be found here;

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