Why do the dialogs have such a cold tone in "The Killing of a Sacred Deer"?

Why do the dialogs have such a cold tone in "The Killing of a Sacred Deer"? - Arched entrance of old church in winter

In The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) all the dialogs have a very cold, formal, calculated tone. The way the family members talk to each other, the formal pleasantries, the lack of emotion in their words.

Why are all the dialogs like that? What's the director trying to tell us, or what does it symbolize?

Best Answer

The weird acting and line delivery is a stylistic choice that Yorgos Lanthimos seems to prefer. You can see it in his other films as well, for instance in The Lobster.

In the interviews on The Killing of a Sacred Deer DVD, Lanthimos and Colin Farrell talk about this style. One thing that was mentioned in the interview (I forget now which interviewee brought it up), is that with a more normal acting style, the actor is doing all the feeling and emoting. The audience doesn't actually have to figure out what to feel or do much of the feeling themselves, aside from mirroring the actor. With this style, the audience does more emotional work: they have to figure out what to feel and then feel it, rather than just watching someone else emoting.

Personally, I also think that feeling alienated within a society that has incomprehensible rules is a major theme of both these movies, so a very flat line delivery style helps to make the audience feel that alienation and confusion.

Edit: The DVD interview doesn't appear to be available online, so I can only suggest going to your local library and checking out the DVD for yourself. There is an LA Times interview with the cast that includes these quotes, though:

"The dialogue is pretty heavy and dark, so the less emotion you attach to it, the bigger the impact," Keoghan added.

"the characters onscreen are acting like it's normal. And that shakes us in a way. If the characters were resisting and shaking their fists to the high heavens, they're doing the work for us. But the characters in Yorgos' films don't necessarily process things the way we are used to seeing people process things, or the way we process them ourselves, and I think that becomes unnerving," [said Farrell]


Pictures about "Why do the dialogs have such a cold tone in "The Killing of a Sacred Deer"?"

Why do the dialogs have such a cold tone in "The Killing of a Sacred Deer"? - Old church in snowy mountains under bright sky
Why do the dialogs have such a cold tone in "The Killing of a Sacred Deer"? - Aged bridge above narrow river with stones between snowy trees and temple exterior on hill in town
Why do the dialogs have such a cold tone in "The Killing of a Sacred Deer"? - Spectacular view of icy lake with slippery surface of white color shades and cracks located near hillside covered with snow and growing trees in wintertime

Is The Killing of a Sacred Deer disturbing?

It's very violent and disturbing, with lots of blood/blood stains, as well as punching, slapping, biting (and spitting out chunks of flesh), bleeding from the eyes, gun use/shooting, and death.

What is the illness in killing of a sacred deer?

Martin tells Steven that to balance out the death of his father, Steven must choose one of his own family to kill. If he refuses, then Steven's family will suffer through different stages of illness like paralysis or bleeding from the eyes before death.

What was the meaning behind the movie The Killing of a Sacred Deer?

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is directly concerned with fate, with cosmic punishment of human hubris, with our so-called free will crumbling under the uncaringly cruel banalities of the universe. In exploring these themes, the film reminded me very much of a modern update on a Greek tragedy.

Is The Killing of a Sacred Deer a comedy?

His last film, \u201cThe Lobster,\u201d found its humor in ridiculous, if terrifying situations, and Lanthimos's latest, \u201cThe Killing of a Sacred Deer,\u201d doubles down on both of those impulses. Working with his \u201cLobster\u201d star, Colin Farrell, Lanthimos has created a film both funnier and more tragic than his last effort.

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Sources: Stack Exchange - This article follows the attribution requirements of Stack Exchange and is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Images: Elina Fairytale, Helena Echeverri, Marko Klaric, ArtHouse Studio