Grae Drake
Alps Review

Grae's Rating:

3.5

Worth the climb.

No need to be concerned about the painful grieving process that happens when your loved one leaves the world--the Alps, a group of "humanitarians," are there to act as a replacement for the departed to ease your mind out of its loss-induced panic and sadness. The group name is a metaphor revealed by the group leader (Aris Servetalis) who claims Mont Blanc from the mountain region as his moniker because it's the biggest, most important mountain (one can only assume the mountain also just sits there and orders the other mountains around while it does half-assed Bruce Lee impersonations too).

Without knowing the plot at first, I mistakenly thought this was a gymnastic gangster ring, because a woman in the group (Ariane Labed) is doing one of those awesome ribbon-twirling routines to Carmina Burana, but tells her coach Matterhorn (Johnny Vekris) that she wants to do a pop song instead. He responds to this by threatening to break her arms and legs, because she's not ready to do a pop song and he'll tell her when she is. Alas, they aren't exactly gangsters, but they are pretty shady. Instead, their group dynamic continues to unfold as an odd scavengers, where they have one woman (Aggeliki Papoulia) working in a hospital so she can ambulance chase and see who needs "comforting." Then someone from the group asks a few questions to the grieving, and then becomes that dead person as best they can. It might seem kind of logical, but it's bonkers. And they're terrible actors too. They don't even try to seem realistic when they're getting into fights, reenacting adulterous encounters, or breaking lamps. But that's kind of the point of the movie--it's hard to pin down.

This cinematic experience was weirdly fascinating. It's the kind of movie that confounds me to a point where I turn into a 107-year-old grandmother and start asking really loudly, "Wait, what is going on, who is that guy?" It's easy to misinterpret because Academy Award nominated director Giorgos Lanthimos doesn't really spoon feed you much. One minute someone is twirling a baton and the next someone's getting smacked with it. The concept of the plot is fantastic and the stilted nature of the conversations starts to become so normal you don't even realize how uncomfortable it is after awhile. The characters in the movie seem to think they're living perfectly normal lives, although from where I was sitting, they were so busy reenacting other people's memories that they were making none of their own. And when they did, they were making terrible choices. I mean, worse than wanting to dance to pop music.

When a filmmaker whose previous films are filled with experimental brain-busting like Lanthimos', you can bet that every choice is deliberate. Like, a shot where the nurse's elbow is in the foreground as she pretends to be a teenage tennis champion is perfectly in focus, but the deceased teen's parents on the couch are perfectly framed and out of focus, shows how isolated she is. The drab color scheme and lack of bright colors makes their world feel lifeless; everything they do revolves around death, ignoring the life within them that they still have. I could go on for days. But the bottom line is this movie is really strange and a nice riddle to solve…or just look at. Or in my case, yell questions at.

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