Alps leaves too many questions unanswered

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Starring Aggeliki Papoulia and Ariane Labed. In Greek with English subtitles. Unrated. Opens Friday, July 27, at the Vancity Theatre

As with songs, not all movies are pitched in the proper key.

Alps is a case in point. Acclaimed Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’s follow-up to the Academy Award–nominated Dogtooth contains subject matter that stridently cries out for a tight, edgy style and dialogue cryptic enough to give Harold Pinter the willies. What it gets, unfortunately, is a loose, rambling approach that blows one potentially tense opportunity after another, getting lost in delayed, and excessively leisurely, repetitions.

Which does not for one minute mean that the film is incompetent. Far from it. This tale of four people (a nurse, a paramedic, a gymnast, and her coach) who compose a secret society that specializes in impersonating dead people for the benefit of grieving relatives is clearly meant to be some sort of comedy, despite its alternately grim and absurdist points of reference.

Once again creating a hard-to-believe situation in an all-too-credible world (Dogtooth focused on three adult children, their paranoid parents, and a semi-hooker who is the young folks’ only conduit to life outside the family fortress), Alps raises 10 questions for every one it ultimately answers.

Filled with peculiar seductions and off-centre meditations on the acting profession, this unclassifiable film contains many memorable moments (the gymnast attempting to preserve her place in an endangered “deathly tableau” reenactment; a really weird day at the beach), virtually all of which eventually evaporate in our minds before they can coalesce into a meaningful chain.

Dogtooth was a really interesting film that constantly threatened to come apart at the seams. Alps, regrettably, does more than just threaten to deconstruct. It is thoroughly scattered by its four thespian winds.


Watch the trailer for Alps.

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