The Killing of a Sacred Deer
The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a 2017 psychological thriller film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, from a screenplay by Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou. It stars Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic, Alicia Silverstone, and Bill Camp. The story is based on the ancient Greek tragedy Iphigenia at Aulis by Euripides.
|The Killing of a Sacred Deer|
UK theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Yorgos Lanthimos|
|Edited by||Yorgos Mavropsaridis|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox (United Kingdom)|
|Box office||$6.1 million|
The film follows a cardiac surgeon (Farrell) who secretly befriends a teenage boy (Keoghan) with a connection to his past. He introduces the boy to his family, who begin to fall mysteriously ill.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. The film was theatrically released in the United States on October 20, 2017, by A24, and in the United Kingdom and Ireland on November 3, 2017, by 20th Century Fox. It has received positive reviews, and grossed over $6 million worldwide.
Steven Murphy, a skilled cardiothoracic surgeon, finishes an open heart surgery, and goes to a diner where he meets a teenage boy named Martin. Afterward, Steven returns home to his wife, Anna, and their children, teenager Kim and younger son Bob. He later tells Anna that Martin's father died in a car accident ten years earlier, and that he has taken an interest in the boy to help him deal with his grief. Martin comes to the Murphy household for dinner; Kim seems rather taken with him.
Martin returns the favor by inviting Steven to his mother's home for dinner. After the meal, Steven tries to leave but Martin insists he watch a movie with them. Martin leaves halfway through, and his mother makes a romantic advance on Steven, who rebuffs her and goes home. Over the next few days, Martin's demands on Steven's time grow increasingly frequent and desperate, but Steven does not reply. One morning, Bob awakens and finds he cannot feel his legs; he has become paralyzed. Steven and Anna rush him to the hospital, where an examination reveals that nothing is physically wrong. Meanwhile, Kim visits Martin, seeking insight.
The next morning, Martin meets Steven and reveals the truth: his father did not die in the crash but had died during surgery that Steven himself performed after the accident. Steven failed to save his father, and the boy blames the surgeon for the death. Martin explains that, to "balance" the act of destroying a family, Steven must kill one of the members of his own. If not, the Murphys will slowly die after four stages; paralysis is the first stage, followed by self-imposed starvation, bleeding from the eyes, and finally death. Steven attempts to dismiss these claims, but later finds that Bob is refusing food (the second stage). Soon after, Kim also loses the use of her legs and the will to eat.
Kim receives a call from Martin at the hospital. During the conversation, she regains the use of her legs, only to lose mobility again when the connection is broken. This convinces Anna that Martin has the power to follow through on his threats. She visits Martin to ask why she and her children must suffer for Steven's mistakes. Martin responds that "it's the only thing...that's close to justice". Anna, suspecting that her formerly alcoholic husband may have been drinking on the day of the operation, speaks to Steven's anesthesiologist, Matthew, who reveals that Steven did in fact have a few drinks that morning. Matthew bargains Anna into performing a sexual favor on him as payment for the information. After all tests are exhausted the hospital is at a loss for a solution; so Anna insists the children are transported back home, where they are tube-fed. Steven then kidnaps Martin, brutally beating him and demanding that he reverse the condition of the children. Martin is unaffected, warning Steven that time is running out; then demonstrates that he's even able to inflict more pain on himself than Martin can muster.
Martin's presence only exacerbates the tension in the household, with Kim and Bob arguing over who their father will choose, while Anna claims that killing one of the children is clearly the only option, as they can have another. Attempting to reach a decision, Steven meets with the school principal and questions which of his children is most academically gifted. Kim, having a teenage crush on Martin, attempts to persuade him to heal her legs again so they may elope together; when unsuccessful, she attempts to save herself by escaping and crawling through the neighborhood. Steven and Anna retrieve her. As Steven disinfects her wounds Kim attempts to persuade him of her true devotion. The next morning, Anna releases Martin as holding him captive was no use. Bob begins bleeding from the eyes (the final stage before imminent death), causing all to panic. Rather than choose, Steven binds Kim, Bob, and Anna to chairs, covers their heads, and pulls a woolen hat over his own face. He loads a rifle, spins in circles, and fires. The first two shots miss, but the third kills Bob.
Some time later, the family visits the same diner where Steven met with Martin. Martin enters and stares at them; he and the family briefly lock eyes and the Murphys leave as Martin gazes after them.
On May 11, 2016, it was announced that Colin Farrell had been cast in the film, with Yorgos Lanthimos directing from a screenplay he had written with Efthymis Filipou. Film4 Productions and Element Pictures produced the project. In June 2016, Nicole Kidman was cast in the film, and in August 2016, Alicia Silverstone, Raffey Cassidy, Bill Camp, Barry Keoghan, and Sunny Suljic also joined.
As of August 23, 2016, the film had begun principal photography in Cincinnati, filming at The Christ Hospital. It was also shot in the Hyde Park and Northside neighborhoods. The school scenes in the film were shot at Roger Bacon High School.
In May 2016, A24 acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film. The same month, Haut et Court acquired French rights. It had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 22, 2017. Lanthimos and Filippou won the Best Screenplay award at the festival.
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On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 80% based on 260 reviews, with an average rating of 7.68/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Killing of a Sacred Deer continues director Yorgos Lanthimos' stubbornly idiosyncratic streak—and demonstrates again that he is a talent not to be ignored." On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 73 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s) and nominee(s)||Result||Ref.|
|AACTA International Awards||January 6, 2018||Best Supporting Actress||Nicole Kidman||Nominated|||
|Cannes Film Festival||May 26, 2017||Palme D'Or||Yorgos Lanthimos||Nominated|||
|Best Screenplay Award||Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou||Won|
|European Film Awards||December 10, 2017||Best European Actor||Colin Farrell||Nominated|||
|Best European Director||Yorgos Lanthimos||Nominated|
|Best European Screenwriter||Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou||Nominated|
|Evening Standard British Film Awards||February 8, 2018||Best Supporting Actor||Barry Keoghan||Nominated|||
|Florida Film Critics Circle||December 23, 2017||Best Supporting Actor||Barry Keoghan||Nominated|||
|Ghent International Film Festival Ghent||October 20, 2017||Grand Prix – Best Film||Yorgos Lanthimos||Nominated|||
|Filmfest Hamburg||October 14, 2017||Sichtwechsel Film Award||Yorgos Lanthimos||Nominated|||
|Independent Spirit Awards||March 3, 2018||Best Supporting Male||Barry Keoghan||Nominated|||
|Best Cinematography||Thimios Bakatakis||Nominated|
|London Film Critics Circle||January 28, 2018||British/Irish Actor of the Year||Colin Farrell (also for The Beguiled)||Nominated|||
|Seattle Film Critics Society||December 18, 2017||Best Supporting Actor||Barry Keoghan||Nominated|||
|Villain of the Year||Barry Keoghan (as Martin)||Nominated|
|Sitges Film Festival||October 14, 2017||Best Film||The Killing of a Sacred Deer||Nominated|||
|José Luis Guarner Critics' Award||The Killing of a Sacred Deer||Won|
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