Yorgos Lanthimos films with a fresh lens


Photo courtesy of IMDb

Emma Stone stars in “The Favorite”, a period piece about English nobility.

Ben Wilcox, Staff Writer

Yorgos Lanthimos’ movies are weird, and weird might be a bit of an understatement. He has been described as “Wes Anderson’s evil twin” — and for good reason. The Greek filmmaker has an off-kilter style that carries a certain kind of cleverness and charm.

As a part of Greece’s “weird wave”, Lanthimos has shown himself to be a master of his craft. Lanthimos broke into the film industry in 2009 with his film “Dogtooth”, a Greek drama about a father and his adult children that have been removed from the outside world. The movie has a unique plot and earned him a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards. Although “Dogtooth” is an interesting enough breakout feature, it’s how Lanthimos has decided to follow it that cements him as one of the best active directors.

In 2015, Lanthimos wrote and directed “The Lobster”, a film about a man who has 45 days to find a new partner after his wife leaves him. If he’s unsuccessful, he’ll be turned into a lobster. What is truly amazing about the execution of this movie is that it could easily be turned into a goofy concept in less careful hands.

Lanthimos focuses on interrogating the feeling of loneliness and the lengths to which people will go to avoid it. “The Lobster” is a well-executed dark comedy, using the notion of the absurd within the plot to tell a somewhat heartfelt and quirky story that feels weird but not strange.

As far as strange stories go, it doesn’t get much stranger than “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”. Lanthimos’ 2017 film is a psychological thriller that is an eerie blend of Stanley Kubrick and Wes Anderson. In this style, long, symmetrical dolly shots in the halls of a hospital help build this bubble of suspense that hangs throughout the movie.

Not to give away too much of the plot, but the film is said to be an adaptation of the story of Iphigenia from Greek mythology and is just about a parent’s worst nightmare put to screen. Barry Keoghan is fantastic in this role, so if you wonder why the actor from “Dunkirk” is now showing up in everything from “The Green Knight” to “Eternals” and a very important cameo in a recent blockbuster, this film is the reason why.

Lanthimos’ most recent feature-length film is probably his most well-known and widely-acclaimed: “The Favourite” (2018). He turns what could be a stuffy period piece about two cousins jockeying over the favor of the Queen of England into another clever dark comedy with a focus on skewering the politics of a “divinely-appointed” monarchy. One way that he captures this in “The Favourite” is by using a wide-angle fish-lens shot that distorts the image but also allows for very athletic camera movement. Again, Lanthimos keeps his work feeling weird and off-kilter, while simultaneously staying true to the story he wants to tell.

After rewatching all of his English language work, it seems very evident why he’s been dubbed the king of Greece’s weird wave. His films are uniquely crafted and deserve more attention. They garner wholehearted recommendations and should be sought out. Also, you should mark your calendars for his next release, “Poor Things”, scheduled for later this year.