Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Barry Keoghan
Written and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, the writer and director that brought us The Lobster, has done it again. And by “it,” I mean confuse, disturb and frustrate his audiences. Now, admittedly, I have not seen The Lobster because I had enough sense to listen to the reviews and steer clear of the bewildering comedy/romance/drama. Unfortunately, I lacked the sense to steer clear of Lanthimos’ 2017 drama/horror/mystery. But let’s not dwell on that misstep of mine, let’s dive into this two-hour what-the-fuck nightmare.
Starting Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman as a husband and wife, he a cardiologist and she an ophthalmologist and parents of two, seem to have a pretty perfect life; a beautiful home, two seemingly perfect children and successful jobs. But, it seems that Steven Murphy (Farrell) has a secret…he meets with a teenage boy in secret and from what we can tell, it happens pretty regularly. At first, we don’t know why or who the boy, Martin played by Barry Keoghan is, but his character and relationship with Dr. Murphy develops into the creepy and ultimately dangerous relationship that the movie centers around. As the movie progresses, it grows stranger and stranger, making the viewer feel more uncomfortable and with each unemotional exchange between characters, we learn that Martin is the son of a former patient of Dr. Murphy’s, whom Dr. Murphy had negligently killed. Martin, who we think is just a strange kid at first that lost his father and sought out a father figure from Steve, turns into a child with revenge on the mind.
Shortly after Steve and Martin are introduced to the story as having a relationship, the story begins to take that strange turn; Steve invites Martin over to his home to meet his family and Martin does the same in return. A visit to Martin’s house provides us with a very strange and uncomfortable interaction with Martin’s mother, played by Alicia Silverstone. Following that nightmare of an evening, the real weirdness seeps in…Steve’s youngest, Bob, loses the ability to use his legs and is rushed to the hospital for testing; cue Martin for the real pinnacle of the movie…Martin informs Steve that he is faced with a decision, choose a family to kill or he will lose his son, wife and child. It turns out that somehow Martin has infected his family with some unknown injection that will leave them unable to use their limbs, complete loss of appetite and finally bleeding from the eyes; at the onset of this stage, the family member will only have hours to live. So it begins…Steve has to try to keep his family alive and oh, did I mention? Steve has been lying to his wife this whole time, first telling her that Martin’s father was a patient he had who died in a car accident, then changing his story to a patient that died on the table but he actually blamed their friend / his anesthesiologist.
As the story unfolds, we learn that Steve’s daughter Kim is not only in love with Martin, but has fallen to the same ailment as her brother; which only maddens Steve and frightens his wife to the point where she does her own investigating. While digging into what really happened to Martin’s father, we get blessed with a completely uncomfortable scene with Anna manually stimulating her husband’s anesthesiologist in a parked car; with this service, she finds out that Steve did kill Martin’s father and he had been drinking before the surgery, and yes we get a tiny little hint that Steve used to be an alcoholic (a grossly under developed aspect of the movie).
Fast forward to Steve’s maddening midframe and we have the children living at home with feeding tubes, Martin locked in the basement and the Murphy’s at each other’s throat trying to end this nightmare. Anna tries to convince Steve to kill one of the children, claiming that they can always have more children and Steve trying to bully Martin into ending the horrible revenge plan early, without any fatalities. When given the chance, Anna releases Martin in defiance of her husband and Bob begins bleeding from his eyes. In what we anticipate is the final scene, Steve is in his living room with a ski cap and shotgun while surrounded by his family, each with a bag over their heads. Steve begins to spin around and around with the ski cap covering his face and begins to shoot, only leading us to deduce that he will kill one family member, but doesn’t want to choose. After unsuccessful shots, he hits his son Bob but the shot doesn’t seem to be fatal. Abruptly, the scene ends and we see the family at a diner, all but Bob. Without any dialogue, we see Martin enter, notice the family and then one by one, the Murphy’s exit the diner…all with the ability to use their legs, including Kim.
This movie was not only confusing and frustrating, it was completely uncomfortable. The dialogue in this movie was void of emotion and seemingly only used to progress the story; the batshit crazy story Lanthimos set out to tell. I can only conclude that this was Lanthimos’ intention because the talents of Farrell and Kidman lend to far better performances than what we get from this film. One positive I will take from this movie is a curiosity for budding actor Barry Keoghan. Despite the frustrating under-performances from our two starring actors, the performance by Keoghan is incredible; he plays a wicked child, hellbent on revenge perfectly.
If you are at all interested in this movie, I do recommend seeing it but settle in for an uncomfortable, confusing ride with little to no payoff.
Two, confused thumbs down…