A close-up of a naked, beating heart opens The Killing of a Sacred Deer, setting the tone for the movie’s matter-of-fact yet squirm-inducing portrayal of normality. Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman play Steven and Anna, married doctors with two children and all the accoutrements of a stereotypical bourgeois existence, including a sterile eroticism that also marks the rest of the story’s world. Steven has become a father figure to a precocious teenager, Martin (Barry Keoghan).
Like a heart in a fist, the relationship between Steven and Martin pressurizes with iron, rhythmic restraint. The movie plays out with the inevitability and perversity of a classical tragedy, never losing control or purpose. And like a tale that has survived the times, it prods the viewer to allegorical interpretation on justice, the power of sovereignty, and the decisions humans may make over life itself. Recommended, especially for fans of We Need to Talk About Kevin.