For Reel

Alps (2011)
April 9, 2012, 9:09 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos faced an uphill battle in attempting to follow-up his disturbing, unforgettably bizarre Dogtooth – for which he earned an Oscar nomination – with a work that shared its pitch-black humor and leading actress. Alps, however, is far from repetitive. Though admittedly not as viscerally startling, it is the work of a more mature, thoughtful artist, whose ability to manufacture dread and suspense remains in tact. As with Dogtooth, the premise is ripe with potential – a small society of men and women help families through the mourning process by posing as their deceased loved ones. The forging of identities is shared with its predecessor, but Lanthimos suggests a heightened fascination in this concept with the character played by Dogtooth‘s Aggeliki Papoulia, who gradually becomes addicted to the affection that is thrust upon her while she is posing as the deceased. When, after losing her job as the daughter to two loving parents, she attempts to force her way back into a family’s life, the moment transcends its surface oddities and finds a heartbreaking truth about loneliness. Papoulia’s role is more emotionally demanding than her previous collaboration with the director, and she meets his needs effortlessly. This pairing has the potential to develop into one of the great actor/director collaborations in contemporary world cinema – she has both the selfless confidence to meet his physical demands, and the sensitivity as a performer to delve into his greater emotional interests.

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