Running at 121 minutes, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ film is more than an allegory, it’s almost a ‘slice of life’, with much more than blood, gory and glory. It’s a tale which will leave one in limbo, and in true Shakespearean style we wonder, to be or not to.
Based on the Greek tragic play Iphegenia in Aulis by Euripides, the film features Colin Farrell as Dr. Stephen Murphy, a hugely successful cardiologist, who befriends Martin (Barry Keoghan – of Dunkirk fame) a teenager who has lost his father to an unsuccessful operation.
Typical to a Greek tragedy there are underlying dark tones emphasizing the unexplained, unnamed, unspecified, open relationship between Murphy and Martin.
The young lad is introduced to Martin’s family as his teenaged daughter Kim’s (Raffey Cassidy – Snow White and the Huntsman, Tomorrowland) schoolmate; in private to his wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) he reveals that he is helping Martin overcome grief of the death of his father in a car accident.
Kim develops a subtly obvious interest in Martin and the two seem to be hitting it off together, sometimes uncomfortably close for Murphy to come to terms with.
Then tragedy strikes – Bob (Sunny Suljic) Murphy’s son wakes up one morning to find himself paralyzed waist downwards – initially assumed as a truant excuse but then treated more seriously later in the film by the fammily.
Prior to this there developed a coolness for Martin from Murphy and their friendship gap widened, whilst the youth becomes devilishly irresistible for Kim who is even ready to elope with him.
Where modern science fails, or at least seems to, Martin confesses to Murphy that he has placed a curse on his family which can only be broken when Martin chooses to kill one of them, as a sacrifice, to maintain the balance of what he had done to his father.
The teenager holds Murphy responsible for the death of his father, at the operating table; and reports that he knows ‘Murphy the surgeon’ had been under the influence of alcohol.
In a Hamlet-like situation, Murphy has the fallible choice of desire and the interpretation of desire, more so as time begins to run out on him, even as Kim too gets afflicted with paralysis.
There are some superb performances brought forth by both Farrell and Kidman yet the show is actually stolen by Keoghan. With some spectacular cinematography and screenplay, the film is more than a cathartic experience. It’s a journey, a voyage which will make one walk down one’s life to those testing moments each one of us have gone through.
Did we survive at the end of the game termed life?
Rating : 4/5