I saw a movie advertised starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell and I went in blind. I did not watch the trailer, I did not read the reviews, I did however have a peek at the 8.1 rating on IMDB and I sighed happily. I was in for a good movie.
“Sacred Deer” stars Colin Farrell as a surgeon whose life unravels after he befriends the son of a former patient. The son is played by “Dunkirk” star Barry Keoghan in a performance of such unsettling intensity that you won’t be able to get his face out of your head. Nicole Kidman plays Farrell’s wife, while Sunny Suljic and Raffey Cassidy star as his children.
I could immediately tell something was wrong with this movie. The soundtrack did not match the action, the actors were speaking in a monotone voice – much like robots, and the discussions they were having weren’t the ones that ordinary people had.
The film begins with Steven performing open-heart surgery. After surgery, he talks to Matthew, his anesthesiologist, about watches. I mean, really talks about them. How much they cost, what type of strap is better, how much they can go underwater – at this point thinking I stumbled into a well disguised advert…
Then Steven meets a teenager called Martin at a diner. Steven seems to be some kind of mentor to Martin and has bought Martin the watch that he discussed with the anesthesiologist. At this point I was thinking – Who is this boy? Is he an estranged son? They’re talking about haircuts… after the watch was given and a hug was exchanged, I started thinking that maybe that expensive watch was a payment for something. Maybe the young boy was his lover? Maybe he was in a gay secret relationship and it made sense for an older guy to have a young lover.
I was trying to make sense and it seemed that the movie was doing its best to keep me from figuring out what was going on.
Steve then goes home to have dinner with his family. His family looked nice enough, a teenage daughter and a boy about 10-11 years old.
I was like “yeah! finally some Nicole Kidman!”.
My enthusiasm was growing slightly and then it plummeted when Steve and his wife went to the bedroom, closed the door, she pretended to be under general anesthesia and he jerked off to her limp body.
I was like “EWWWW! GROSS”. I was even more grossed out when he pulled her panties down and I had a full view of Nicole’s vagina. I DID NOT WANT TO SEE THAT!
Later on we see them at a Gala, Nicole looks stunning BTW, long legs, black dress and looking every bit like a surgeon’s wife. Steve gives a speech and then meets up with his anesthetist friend and suggest they have an early night as they have surgery the next day. During the conversation, you hear the odd thing slipping out like:
“My daughter is now menstruating”
Like WTF! What kind of a deranged parent tells that to strangers at a Gala dinner!
Well, apparently that’s not bad enough. Steve invites the boy to his house and after having dinner with the family, he retreats to the children’s room where he shows the young brother his armpit hair, the girl tells him she’s menstruating and then the brother says he doesn’t have as much hair on his chest as his father does. Who in the world wrote the script!?
Bob Murphy: [to Martin] Have you got hair under your arms yet?
Kim Murphy: I’ve just got my first period.
It’s not even yet reached his critical point and I’m thinking about walking out…
The creepiness continues as the doctor accepts an invitation Marcus makes to see his mother and have dinner with them and then watch tv.
“You have really nice hands. Doctor’s hands” She then proceeds to suckle on his fingers and he has to nearly knock her down to get her off his hands…
I started to hear exclamations from the row in front of me: “What the fuck are we watching?” That’s the exact question I was asking myself.
The next day, the boy turns into a stalker. Shows up at his office, demands to be examined as he’s feeling bad (his heart is beating fast) and then tells him casually that his mom fancied him (nevermind that the doctor is married) and invites him over again.
Martin: My mom’s attracted to you. She’s got a great body.
When the doctor refuses, he feels betrayed but walks off.
The next day, his boy can’t get out of bed and can’t feel his legs. They rush him to the hospital to get help and he finds out that it’s all in the boy’s mind, there’s nothing wrong with him and only when he collapses again when walking out of the hospital, he gets a bed. The creepy teenager appears again, tells the doctor that he knows that he killed his father on the operating table and he wants him to pick a member of his family that will be killed in return.
Anna meets with the anesthesiologist, and he says he remembers Steven having two drinks the morning before operating on Martin’s father. He says when someone dies, it is never his fault, but the fault of the surgeon. He then makes Anna do him a sexual favor as payment for the information he provided (a handjob in the car).
It’s the classical problem: leave all his family to die or pick a member to pay the price. His daughter is next to be committed, can’t walk, refuses to eat and is on her way to starving to death. As they can’t find a cure for whatever they are suffering, the children are released at home and this is when they find out the decision that their dad has to make. They all start trying to flatter him to avoid having to die. Bob cuts his hair himself and says he wants to be a cardiologist. Little shit.
Anna Murphy: Our children are dying, but yes. I can make you mashed potatoes.
I though the movie could not be any worse, until they introduced a blind guy with a piano (not Ray Charles), to bang the keys in a dissonant manner every 5 seconds or so. It was loud and it did not fit in. I was packing my bags at this point prepared to leave when the scene changed to the couple’s garage where Steve, the doctor, had kidnapped the boy and tied him to a chair and started beating him up… I suppose to tell him how he managed to inflict a psychosomatic disease onto his kids…
It was when the kid BIT A PART OF HIS ARM OFF that I knew I had enough. Fuck the metaphors, let’s just scream the meaning of the movie in the audience’s face so that they don’t have to use their brains. And possibly use that blind guy on the keys again!
How it ends (a friend told me after I walked out):
At night, when everyone is asleep, Kim drags herself down to the basement and asks Martin to let her walk again so they can run away together. Steven and Anna wake up and notice that Kim is not in her bed and they check every room, and she is nowhere to be found. They go down to the basement, and she is not there either. Steven asks Martin what he did to her. They start driving around the neighborhood and eventually find her dragging herself along with her knees/legs bleeding.
The next day, Anna says she has set Martin free, and then Bob’s eyes start bleeding. It is now time for Steven to make his choice. He tapes up his family members and puts pillowcases over their heads and then seats them in the living room. He stands in the middle of them with a rifle and pulls a beanie down over his face before spinning in a circle and firing the rifle randomly. He does this a few times, only hitting furniture in the house, until the final time when we see blood begin to stream down from under Bob’s pillowcase. In the next scene, Steven, Anna, and Kim are eating in the diner where Steven used to meet with Martin. Martin walks in and sits at the bar and looks back at them. The family gets up and leaves.
Now let’s see some of the praises for this piece of shit movie:
Go watch it on the big screen. Experience it, then see it again, and let its brilliance wash over you. I don’t say this often, but to me, this is an instant classic.
As usual in a surreal dissection of privileged complacency, the hollow house, an emasculating masturbation motif, and emotional negligence work together to undermine the surface happiness of wealth and power.
Origins of the title:
THERE IS NO DEER IN THIS MOVIE
This film is full of brilliant metaphors, but you have to know Greek mythology and history to understand some of them. When Agamemnonas wanted to go to Troy to fight with his ships, there was no wind and he could’t get there. So he asked the Gods to throw some strong winds, but the Gods replied that he had to sacrifice something in order to get the winds he desired, so they told him he had to kill his daughter. Agamemnonas thought about it and he decided to kill his daughter, but when he was just about to kill her, the gods transformed her into a deer, so he killed a sacred deer.
If you have masochist trends I am sure you will like this film