Keen to see this having caught the trailer in the cinema, I was in no way prepared for what this film delivers. It’s clearly intended to be read as a huge allegory about the lies and perversion of logic that can happen when the state tries too hard to protect its citizens from dangers real or imagined. In one way, it’s a tale of killing with kindness. It’s also about the corrosive, corrupting nature of power and, viewed this way, makes perfect sense. Afterwards.
Meanwhile, you’re watching, initially with total incomprehension, then with growing horror, as an entirely head-wrecked couple proceed – without apparently anything in the way of morality or rationality – to traumatise their 3 young adult offspring. These kids, we start to realise, have been entirely cut off from the world and are totally reliant on their parents’ interpretation of even the simplest of events (the meaning of a word, a plane flying overhead).
Some of the lies seem fairly harmless, even humorous at first and it’s even possible to think sympathetically, as a parent, about wanting to protect kids from the perils of the world. That the parents seem wilful and almost childlike themselves is, I’m sure, intentional & representative of the “me” generation. But then the whole picture gets way more distorted and very disturbing. It’s not just about some over-protective parents, though, these people, who seem to have absolutely no moral compass at all, are willing to exploit their own kids even to the bleakest of conclusions.
Rarely does a film make me feel truly shocked to the core, but this is one of them and it has what must be one of the grimmest closing shots in cinema.