Greek provocateur Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster) returns to rattle his audience like never before in this extraordinarily unsettling film perhaps best described as modern-day "Yuppies In Peril" thriller with an existentialist edge.
Colin Farrell plays Steven Murphy, a successful heart surgeon married to fellow doctor Anna (Nicole Kidman), with whom he has a pubescent daughter and a pre-teen son.
Steven has been acting as a mentor/big brother figure to Martin (Barry Keoghan), the teenage son of a former patient of Steven's who died on the operating table. Although it's initially difficult to discern amid the atonal, declarative style of acting Lanthimos demands from his actors, it soon becomes clear that Martin is a very troubled young man. His actions will force Steven into an unthinkable position that starts as every parent's nightmare and goes on to become something even worse.
A sense of overwhelming unease drives the first half of the film - it's excruciatingly tense and oddly tantalising at the same time. Then the unease manifests itself in the film's second hour, and things get really tough for the viewer.
There is jet-black humour peppered throughout, but Lanthimos is less interested in providing entertainment than in provoking a visceral reaction in his audience. The film's allegorical ambitions are grand, even if attempts to assign specific meaning is likely to cause madness.
Farrell and Kidman are both stunning, as are the actors who play their children, but it's the button-eyed Keoghan - previously seen as the schoolboy all too keen to go to war in Dunkirk - who leaves the most lasting impression as a figure of inexplicable familial terror.
Highly recommended but be advised: from the opening shot, this is a extremely distressing watch.
Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman
R16 (Violence, cruelty & sex scenes)
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DID YOU KNOW . . .
Australian model Megan Gales was originally cast as Wonder Woman in a 2007 version of Justice League, however the film was canned before it ever finished filming.