Film reviews: The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, Thelma and Ferrari

THE BIG RELEASE

The Killing Of A Sacred Deer (15)

★★★★★

WEIRDNESS, total weirdness — that’s a given with any new film by Yorgos Lanthimos. His last, The Lobster, for instance, started in a hotel where guests are given 45 days to find a romantic partner or else be turned into an animal of their choosing. The Killing Of A Sacred Deer is just as bizarre — but it triumphs as Lanthimos’s most elegant and lacerating masterpiece.

Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) is a renowned cardiovascular surgeon with seemingly the perfect life. In his bourgeois idyll live his ophthalmologist wife (Nicole Kidman) and their polite kids, a 12-year-old son (Sunny Suljic) and 14-year-old daughter (Raffey Cassidy). Enter Martin (Barry Keoghan), a mysterious teen Steven meets in secret.

But why? Is he a love child? A lover? All sort of becomes clear after Steven takes the unwise step of introducing Martin into his family, precipitating a moral deathtrap so hideous it makes those in horror film Jigsaw look like pre-school toys.

‘I’m sorry if I made you feel awkward, I didn’t mean to,’ says Martin’s mother (Alicia Silverstone) as she bungles while seducing Steven. But then every encounter is exquisitely awkward in Lanthimos land.

While he’s an inherently warm screen presence, Colin Farrell — who won a Golden Globe for The Lobster — again proves perfect at delivering an off-puttingly deadpan script, which won best screenplay at Cannes this year.

Adding to the weird factor is the fact everyone speaks in a monotone and responds to emotional moments by going off on apparent non sequiturs about such subjects as the comparative water resistance of designer watches.

While Lanthimos exposes the psyches of his characters, for him the surface of our lives is as odd, perhaps odder, than the monsters that writhe beneath. As this modern-day Greek tragedy drew to its macabre conclusion, I found myself almost sick with suspense.

THE VERDICT: This 21st-century Greek tragedy proves strong meat for connoisseurs of the absurd

The power of forbidden lust

Thelma (15)

★★★★✩

CARRIE meets Raw (the recent, brilliant female cannibal film) in this beguiling supernatural coming-of-ager. When Thelma (Eili Harboe) leaves her Christian family to go to university it doesn’t take her long to fall into sin. But alcohol, the odd spliff and lusting after a girl (Kaya Wilkins) in her lecture hall don’t merely trigger guilt — they bring on epileptic-type seizures and even less explicable phenomena.

Norwegian director Joachim Trier refuses to stick either his characters or the forces guiding them into neat boxes. Yes, it’s a cautionary tale about repression, but desire also leads to fatal consequences. ‘Why can’t I just be what I am?’ Thelma cries. The answer is far from simple.

An era of death, glory and timeless glamour

Ferrari: Race To Immortality (15)

★★★✩✩

‘WIN or die, you will be immortal,’ Enzo Ferrari used to tell his drivers. This racing documentary consistently veers towards the ‘die’. Like the Bafta-winning Senna, it’s made almost entirely from atmospheric archive footage rather than talking heads.

From the off it’s not clear what direction this journey’s taking but the result stands as an admiring memorial to the daredevil champions of Ferrari’s team in the late 1950s. This was an era when races involved truly hair-raising smash-ups, all too frequently fatal for the drivers and, in some cases, the crowd.

Ferrari remains a shadowy, dictatorial figure but the personalities of the drivers shine through, with English legends Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins providing something of a through line. It certainly captures the ‘live fast, die young’ glamour of the bygone Formula One scene. After all, no one lived faster.