Friday, February 11, 2011

A Film I Liked With Little or No Structure Whatsoever

Okay, you'll hear a lot of blah, blah, blah from me about the importance of having a structure to your stories. But, nevertheless, I did come across film today that I actually liked -- although it has hardly any structure whatsoever.

The film is called Dogtooth. It's a Greek film, and, sure, it does take some patience to get through. I, in fact, only got through about 40 minutes of its hour-and-a-half-long feature this afternoon. Yup, it was a bit tedious, but I was also glued to the screen. It's basically about this family where the parents have home-schooled their kids all their life and, in fact, the kids aren't even allowed off the premises of the compound. The kids are totally ignorant of anything that goes on outside the walls of the yard. It's kind of a Greek version of Flowers in the Attic (yup, incest included). 

Basically, the film opens with the father driving this female security guard out to the compound blindfolded. They drive into a rural area, and, of course, I think that they are going to have sex, because he is asking her a lot of questions, such as whether she bathed that day. "Yesterday", it was. Ah, the Europeans... Anyhow, instead of the father having sex with the girl, he basically presents her to his son. It appears they've done this before, and we see it, of course, in all its cinema-verite, lurid splendor. Anyhow, I'm digressing... I guess what I am trying to say is that, although Dogtooth has little structure (it really felt like we were still setting up the story at the 40-minute point), one of the good things about this sick and twisted little foreign film is that it spends a lot of time just SHOWING you the rules of the family's bizarre world. I guess nothing much needs to happen, because there is so much weird stuff going on already; we don't really need to jump into some, need I say, "journey". 

If something could be construed as having the sense of introducing a second-act journey, it is when the mother announces that she is going to give birth to two children and a dog -- but if the kids behave, she'll just have the dog. Anyhow, perhaps the introduction of the dog is going to change these kids' lives somehow. I hope so, because otherwise it's just one long film about child abuse. I still need to finish the rest of the film, but I still recommend Dogtooth, from what I've seen, if you want a good example of a lot of showing, not one ounce of telling, and just a really good set of "character" and "world" rules that this film presents.

(And please don't believe the review by a New York Times writer, who said the film was "hilarious". I mean, unless if your idea of hilarious is watching two sisters perform fellatio on each other...)

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