A psychological social drama about life under a hood, in which there is one “master” and its own laws.
The monotone voice on the tape explains the meaning of the new words. The definitions are mixed up, the armchair is called the sea, the white bird is called the carbine. A boy and two girls are listening attentively to the lesson. One of them offers fun – to hold your finger under boiling water, the winner is the one who endures the test of hot water the longest. The rest agree.
An elderly man (Christos Stergioglou) and a woman in uniform and wearing a mask are driving a car. He brings Christina (Anna Calaicida) to a big house on the outskirts. Between the young man and the guard there is a sexual intercourse. The inhabitants of the mansion, parents and three children, gathered in the living room, the head of the family takes offspring and the guest on camera.
The strange lessons continue. While the brother (Christos Passalis) and the elder sister (Aggeliki Papoulia) frolic, dousing themselves with water, the younger one (Mari Tsoni) cuts off the limbs of the doll, accompanying this action with piercing screams. For dinner, the household carefully gather. At the table, casual conversations take place, children compete in the number of stamps earned, the youngest daughter orders medicines. At the choice of the heir, the family watches a video after the meal.
The guy, staring intently at the lush bushes near the fence, argues with an imaginary interlocutor and, angry, throws stones at him. Mom (Michelle Valley) notices communication with an invented opponent, parents hold a preventive conversation.
Adult children see an airplane in the sky, they think that it is a toy and they want to catch an outlandish object. The head of the family goes to work. He lies to his colleagues, explaining the unsociableness of his relatives with his wife’s disability.
The girls have found a new entertainment, they experience the effects of the anesthetic. The mother calls her husband on a wired telephone, the eldest spying on her. The father wants to take the dog, but the cynologist refuses, arguing that the dog has not completed his training.
A friendly family plays hide and seek. The first daughter throws pieces of roll over a high fence, she feeds another brother who has gone beyond the fence. The sex lessons continue. Christina is not averse to having fun with another member of the family and chooses an adult sister for this, who agrees to oral contact.
The “kids” start a fight for the airplane, the older one stabs her brother. The mother beats the aggressive child and locks it in the room. The guy can not sleep, he climbs into bed with his parents. The next day, the young man, somersaulting on the green lawn, sees a cat and kills the animal with huge garden shears. Daddy tears his pants and douses himself with artificial blood. He tells a terrible story – the most ferocious animal in the world, a cat, killed his son. The poor fellow left the safe house without any preparation. The father teaches his relatives to bark to protect themselves from the monstrous beast. Children say goodbye to the “dead”.
The heroine Michelle Valley announces her pregnancy, she is expecting twins, but says that she may not give birth if the “kids” improve their behavior. The parent releases the fish into the pool, and then, accompanied by his daughter, goes to hunt them.
At dinner, the household repeats the main rule – do not leave the reliable walls until the fang falls out. Dad turns on the music, translates the “grandfather’s” song, which supposedly contains words about family values.
Christina again visits the ward, and then hurries to the girl, but she extorts gifts more interesting than the phosphorescent hoop and receives two video cassettes. An inquisitive prisoner watches films. “Rocky”, “Jaws” and “They call me Bruce” impressed the older child, she wants to learn how to fight and plays man-eating shark. The character of Christos Stergioglou, as he learned about the misconduct, beats the unfortunate.
Home tyrant severely punishes the guard. The youngest daughter attacks her brother with a hammer, inventing a story about an armed cat. She wants to heal the victim. The head announces that the sisters will now satisfy the heir. The hero of Christos Passalis conducts a “casting”, choosing the eldest. The mother prepares the girl for intercourse.
The crazy couple have an anniversary, decorate the house and have a party. The eldest tells her sister that her fang is loose. She is too fond of dancing, the audience is unhappy. Aggelica’s character Papoullia locks himself in the bathroom and knocks out his tooth with a dumbbell. A rebel in bloody clothes hides in the trunk of a car. Households see a fang in the shell and look for the runaway. The search was unsuccessful, the father casually declares that he will soon bring the dog.
Dad goes to work in the morning. The car stays at the entrance.
The meaning of the film
The painting by Yorgos Lanthimos is about a perverted form of overprotection. The married couple, for the benefit of the offspring, protected them from the adverse effects of the outside world, crippling their fragile psyche. Unfortunate parents not only changed the meaning of words, they excluded the emotional component that binds loved ones. The offspring lives in excellent conditions, the needs for food, comfort, education and sex are satisfied, there is even entertainment – watching videos, blindfolds, dancing. But adult children clearly do not have enough thrills, they tickle their nerves with risky games, easily commit self-mutilation. Caress and kisses are an unnecessary factor, they are replaced by animal licks.
Existence in greenhouse conditions will not replace life in society. Isolation from the harmful influence of society did not turn the “experimental” into ideal people, it is impossible to drown out the true inside. The creators of the tape showed that the desire for freedom, the fight against restrictions is a natural desire that will appear even in a “sterile” environment.
Characteristics of heroes
The father is a mentally ill person, his relatives became victims of authoritarianism. He controls not only the household, but also the guest “from the outside.” A man carefully monitors that extra information does not leak into a cozy nest, even bottle labels are censored. The psychopath took on the role of the Creator, and put into his “creations” only what he considered necessary, they are a blank sheet for him, an empty cassette. He took his daughter’s escape with annoyance, without anxiety for her future.
Mother is a broken woman living by all the rules that the despot has established. Her will is completely paralyzed. Protecting children from “dangerous” things, she herself does not refuse to use the phone, player, TV.
The eldest daughter is curious, cunning, persistent. She achieves her goal, forced her mistress to give the desired cassettes. The only one who dared to challenge and leave. At the same time, she did not stop believing in parental fables, so she knocked out a fang, securing a pass for herself over a high wall.
The youngest, a submissive girl, like soft plasticine, meets the expectations of a despot. Excessively passionate about medicine and anatomy.
The son is obedient and infantile. At night, he comes to his parents’ bed, but when a monstrous cat appears in the yard, he bravely defends his relatives and kills her.
Christina is a woman whose morality is in great doubt. She has sex for money, seduces an inexperienced girl. Knowing about the order prevailing in a country mansion, does not attract public attention, does not go to the police.
The picture of Lanthimos from the first minutes of viewing causes bewilderment, disgust and disgust. The viewer, who did not turn off the film with the thought: “Damn, what was that,” is drawn in and waits for what other “berries” await the heroes. The acting is confusing, and if you initially want to accuse the performers of unprofessionalism, then as the plot develops, it becomes clear that unemotionality serves as a reflection of the characters’ inner world. “Living dolls” with impenetrable faces, coldness of movements, their impersonality emphasizes the absence of names. The clumsy dance of the main character is the only storm, behind the bizarre movements lies a thirst for freedom and dissatisfaction.
The picture itself looks light, bright, the locations are flooded with sunlight as a counterbalance to the wrong side of the inhabitants of the devilish place. Candid scenes, incest, assault look everyday, like a necessary link in a relationship. The tape draws many parallels, a spatial monologue about dog training is an accurate reflection of the method of raising children, and an airplane in the sky is a symbol of unattainable freedom.
There are white spots in the plot, it is not clear why the fanatics distort the wording of words. What will happen to the recluses when the couple passes away? How did a tyrant come to such a family model?
The open ending is ambiguous. Mowgli had the guts to run away, but will she take the plunge into the unknown? And how will a morally disabled person survive without social communication skills?