Though 2016 has been a straight-up abysmal year for the big studios, the smaller studios and specialty branches have been having a great year thus far. New masterworks like Sunset Song, Love & Friendship, Knight of Cups, and Mountains May Depart have brought new fans to the bases of Terrence Davies, Terrence Malick, Whit Stillman, and Jia Zhang-ke. At the same time, The Fits, Weiner, The Love Witch, The Witch, and Men Go to Battle have all announced startling new talents worthy of bigger budgets and more ambitious subject matter. Still, one must also note that directors like Duncan Jones (Warcraft), John Hillcoat (Triple 9), and Paul Greengrass (Jason Bourne) have all put out the weakest work of their career this year.
Amongst those names would be Yorgos Lanthimos, the staggeringly intelligent Greek auteur who blazed onto the scene with Dogtooth, who came into a new wave of fans this year with The Lobster, a clever but insubstantial tale of a world where people are matched up coldly by overseers or turned into wild animals. As a metaphor for the distancing between people in the digital age, it’s view is narrow and entirely biased; as a dark subversive fantasy, it’s not nearly as imaginative or visually stirring as it should be.
For those reasons alone, it’s great to hear that Lanthimos has just started production on The Killing of a Sacred Deer, his next American film, in Cincinnati with co-stars Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman. And according to Indiewire, the film has a new addition to its cast, namely Clueless star Alicia Silverstone. The story revolves around Farrell’s character, Steven, ““a charismatic surgeon forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behaviour of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister.”
Silverstone will play the mother of the unnamed boy while Kidman will play Steven’s wife, working from a script by Efthymis Filippou, Lanthimos’ longtime collaborator. The story sounds less about clever conceit and more about the roots of pain and violence in emotional isolation, which is the bedrock of Dogtooth and Lanthimos’ sophomore feature, ALPS. Here’s hoping the director’s next work edges more on the side of those films than cynical ballyhoos like The Lobster.