Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos
Written by: Yorgos Lanthimos & Efthymis Filippou
Starring: Angeliki Papoulia, Ariane Labed, Aris Servetalis, Efthymis Filippou
Uncomfortable bleakness has become quite the calling card for Yorgos Lanthimos and the way he brings his Greek sense of style to the rest of the world. His style has worked in other works, but what he creates in Alps cannot be described as a success even with its existential ambition in the works.
With no real nameable characters, a group called the Alps can, for a fee, portray a recently deceased family member for any grieving person. A practice that may help with the grieving process for the family, but becomes rather complicated for the group and how they continue to see life.
On a grander scale, the ambition behind the film does set up quite an interesting premise. Lanthimos tries to bring the audience into this society that lacks emotion and connection to the point that people are willing to pay someone for it. The services provided show the necessity of tangibility to help with the grieving process and how even having a stranger as the representation of a loved one can help with that. This plot line does not make itself abundantly clear throughout the story, which made it quite confusing, at least to me. Even with that ambition, it shows when writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos may lose his grip on the story.
Lanthimos is unafraid of creating stories to cause discomfort for those experiencing his creations. Looking at something like Dogtooth and the incredibly odd imagery and character actions can show the purity of his filmmaking style and what he can cultivate with a strong plot. Then after this disappointing film, he enters more of the mainstream with The Lobster and The Favourite. Again, as mainstream as Lanthimos can get, he still creates some odd characters and plots. It demonstrates that he has the ability to capture these ideas, but in Alps, it feels bleak to the point of boredom.
From the opening sequence to the last, I found myself trying to understand what in the world Lanthimos was trying to do with this story. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt but by the time it all came together, I felt fairly disappointed with what the entire culmination of events led to. Did it make sense on a thematic level? Sure, but at the cost of a coherent story. Alps feels like an attempt only someone like Lanthimos would try and I’m glad he had the audacity to try it, but it came with middling results.