Today: February 21, 2024

When Greek director Giorgos Lanthimos broke onto the international scene in 2009 with the surreal and visceral Dogtooth, many could be forgiven for thinking that that was a one time only movie.

When
Greek director Giorgos Lanthimos broke
onto the international scene in 2009 with the surreal and visceral Dogtooth, many could be forgiven for
thinking that that was a one time only movie.
Yet
Lanthimos has come back with a film that is just as bizarre and
incomprehensible as its predecessor.

Alps
follows a group of four people who imitate the dead. They voluntarily impose
themselves into families’ lives and act like a recently deceased relative in an
attempt to ease the grieving process. Copying certain traits of the dead we see
small extracts of The Alps at work. Generally they reconstruct certain,
precious moments from that person’s life and borrow from their wardrobe. None
of The Alps actually try to do impressions of these people. Instead they
perform a very broken, rigid and overall bad style of acting. Mostly this helps
the audience to recognise when they are ‘acting’ and when not. This though is
easier said than done.

Alps’ biggest strength comes from its ambiguity.
Lanthimos never really tries to tell you what is happening. From scene to scene
the film shows the characters going about their daily lives then occasionally
acting. As the film progresses though, this line becomes increasingly blurred,
leaving you questioning what you saw earlier. Essentially it’s a mystery. You
could make the ridiculous comparison and say that this is the Greek Inception.
Just like Leonard DiCaprio doesn’t know when he’s dreaming, the Alps
aren’t sure when they should be acting or not. It’s a clumsy analogy yet there
is a maze of ideas and routes that this film could be interpreted through. So
thank goodness it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Much like Dogtooth, Alps is a very funny black comedy.
These dead pan, alienated characters are so departed from society that their
basic social skills are so absurd it’s amusing. Just by simply talking in
English or dancing, these characters are just hilarious at anything that is
outside of their normal realms. There are some particularly good impressions of
Prince and Bruce Lee that just have to be seen to be believed.
Although its not a laugh a minute, there are enough comedic moments within it that
should see it rightfully qualify as a comedy. Once again though, the complexity
of Alps means that it could easily be a tragedy.

There is a lot of darkness in Alps. The whole premise
of the film revolves around death, so of course that theme is visited. Only the
second scene of the film sees a young girl being told that she may die after
being involved in a serious accident. It’s an intense moment, of which there are
plenty throughout the film. These scenes are so well done and unnerving that
you are thankful that the more lighthearted elements exist.

Alps is a film that will become more and more
rewarding the more you see it. Ranging from a mystery to a comedy, then a
tragedy, Lanthimos has created a film that works on many levels. The
performances are amazing, it looks incredible throughout (the gymnast scenes at
the start and end are a highlight) and it has that ability to shock. Perhaps
this isn’t quite on par with Dogtooth, but it’s a perfect companion piece.
Giorgos Lanthimos is an extremely exciting director. Keep a close eye on what
he chooses to do next.

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