Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman shine in the mysterious ‘Killing of a Sacred Deer’

Justin Jones

Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ Academy Award-nominated film “The Lobster” wowed audiences in 2016 as one of the best and most creative films of the year.

His follow-up, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” reunites the acclaimed writer-director with “Lobster” star Colin Farrell in a dynamic, mystery-fueled drama-comedy.

Farrell plays Steven Murphy, a surgeon with a seemingly perfect life, married to a beautiful wife (Nicole Kidman) with two adorable children. Something odd is at work, however, as the film lets the audience in early on about the peculiar bond Farrell’s character has with a young teen named Martin (“Dunkirk’s” Barry Keoghan). Keoghan is brilliant in the role, and plays Martin as aloof and somewhat simple, with an air of malice.

Murphy’s close relationship with the seemingly random teen drives the mystery of “Sacred Deer’s” first hour or so. The darkly comedic tone of “The Lobster” seeps into the film throughout this first half, and though not much happens to drive the plot forward, brilliant dialogue and perfect tonal control keep the film compelling.

In the second half of “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” Lanthimos takes inspiration from the Greek tragedy of Agamemnon and Iphigenia, a devastating tale of grief and revenge. The inspiration of the Greek myth has such an influence on Lanthimos’ tale that the title itself references the myth’s inciting incident. To describe their tale is to describe the crux of the film, but rest assured — it is not pleasant.

The second English-language film from Yorgos Lanthimos is a powerhouse of character and tension, ratcheting up from dark comedy to psychological thriller to outright horror without a single plot beat out of place. “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” is a jewel, and one of the best movies of the year.

  • “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”
  • Rating: R
  • Runtime: 120 minutes
  • Score: 4.5/5 stars