After the success of DOGTOOTH (2009), director Giorgos Lanthimos delivers another bizarre slice of human emotion, in ALPS.
This time, his feature film is far more accessible, but is still as quirky and mind boggling as his 2009 Oscar nominated film.
The full premise of ALPS must remain secret. Several film festival annotations blatantly explain the centrepiece of this intriguing film, and in the process, destroy much of the shock and surprise viewers would experience.
I can coyly reveal, without being detrimental to your film-going experience, that the lives of a gymnast, a coach, a paramedic and a nurse – the collective focus of the film – are far deeper than what you see on the surface.
They form a self employed company called ALPS, whose particular trade is deeply personal and necessary to a minority, despite its absurdity.
I enjoy the structure of Giorgos Lanthimos films. Each scene begins with the viewer have no understanding of what is to happen, or how it is to end. Nothing is ever wasted. No scene is ever revealed too early. Some questions are never answered. You must invest in every scene, to have, upon self-reflection, invested in the film.
The environment in which his films take place are bleak, sterile – with characters driven by singular motivations in their drab worlds. A sense of dread hangs over them.
ALPS could be considered a companion piece to the director’s earlier film – DOGTOOTH. Whereas Dogtooth’s underlying focus was a character’s absence from everyday life – ALPS focusses on characters ingraining themselves into private lives.
And this film works. I found myself understanding why characters would accept the proposition put forward by ALPS. But there will be many who will dismiss this film, out of its sheer absurdity. But for the remainder, like myself, it is yet again a strong film by Giorgos Lanthimos, with precise performances and pacing, and a screenplay that you won’t forget.
Score: 3 stars
Screened at Venice Film Festival. Screening at Sydney Film Festival 2012.
Winner of the Golden Osella ‘Best Screenplay’ at the Venice Film Festival.
Nominated for the Golden Lion.
Won the FIPRESCI Prize – Special Mention prize at the Sofia International Film Festival.