Alpeis (2011) Poster

(2011)

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5/10
What a disappointment.
With the singularly compelling premise of a mysterious group offering to take over the roles of recently deceased people to provide relief for their loved ones, it came as quite the shock to me that Greek writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos's follow-up to his 2009 Oscar-nominated "Dogtooth" (one of my all-time favorites) ultimately failed at living up to its concept.

Throughout the entirety of "Alps", I felt I was gazing in awe at a beautiful seed sadly incapable of germination. The film barely got anywhere while maintaining an incredibly slow pace and irritating visual style consisting of incessantly restrained deep-focus cinematography. There was so much potential wasted on scenes far too peculiar and insignificant to add any depth to the story or further develop the characters. Seldom did anything rightfully earn its place in the film; the multiple sex scenes seemed to be there with the sole purpose of being extremely awkward and obscene, while all the attempts at absurd humor felt slightly forced and weren't as effective as they should have been due to the narrative's intermittent solemnity.

This brings me to the film's greatest problem, which was that— on top of struggling to find its own voice and tone in its ridiculously irrational approach— it never really figured out what message it wanted to convey to its audience. Evidently Lanthimos was trying to say something about human nature and the craziness of consumer society, but he didn't succeed in delivering his thoughts coherently this time around. I hate comparing, but I must say I found the profound social critique that seeped through the bizarre surface of "Dogtooth" to be far superior in elaboration.

The end result of "Alps" was a confused, detached (albeit well-acted, especially by Aggeliki Papoulia) jumble beyond anyone's realm of comprehension, so overwhelmingly filled with unjustified senselessness that the most I could do was simply sit and stare at the screen, patiently awaiting some real substance, only to be disappointed by sheer staleness.

I suppose I somewhat admired "Alps" for all that it could've been following its eccentric uniqueness, but I can't see how anyone in their right mind could have truly enjoyed it.
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10/10
In praise of altruism Warning: Spoilers
The title Alps refers to a fairly mysterious secret society of the same name in Yorgos Lanthimos' follow up to the hugely successful Dogtooth. I entered the film not knowing much about it, and I think that's the best way for the movie to unfold for you, as a mystery. I think mystery in general is Lanthimos' best gift here, Alps is a movie that really lets you take your own view, leaves pieces of the jigsaw out and sparks all sorts of different thoughts. I think I also felt that there's a seedling of hope and compassion in the movie amongst an existential debris of pragmatic, valueless and selfish individuals, which to my mind makes it a lighter experience than Dogtooth (although most critics have said otherwise). I think it's sad that, what I think are quite serious films, are mainly sold by relating to their shock or comedy value. The sequel-itis contagion requires a sequel to be darker, so to some extent people have spun this film as Dogtooth 2 - RABID! There's an aesthetic inversion in the sense that Lanthimos has Dogtooth containing characters trying to escape from an artificial environment, and in Alps characters are trying to create them. They're both about "existential malaise", but other than that, perhaps should be treated quite separately.

"Winter swimmers never feel the cold." is a phrase that comes up in the movie. I think that a lot of folk here have got inured to soulless living. The people who the society focus on live out the past, and only value others in terms of what they can give to them, or how they make them feel, they're devoid of altruism. As in Dogtooth there's scenes of characters apeing iconic dream factory roles, the folks here are small compared to the objects of their obsession. People are trying so hard to be better than others, that they end up alone.

Difficult to talk exactly about the movie without spoilers, but I think my take was that the main message is that redemption comes via self-sacrifice, that people should grow up and be adults (western societies have pushed back the assuming of adulthood later and later). As in Dogtooth, there's a specifically Grecian comment about the old feeding off the young (though perhaps this will resonate elsewhere).

The character that I want to hug is Monte Rosa (Aggeliki Papoulia), I think she takes a beautiful journey, the journey to altruism.
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8/10
"Sociological, minimalistic, cinematographic and invigorating..."
Sindre Kaspersen22 April 2013
Greek screenwriter, producer and director Yorgos Lanthimos' fourth feature film which he co-wrote with screenwriter Efthimis Filippou and co-produced, premiered In competition at the 68th Venice Film Festival in 2011, was screened in the Visions section at the 36th Toronto International Film Festival in 2011, was shot on location in Greece and is a Greek production which was produced by producer Athina Rachel Tsangari. It tells the story about a ballet coach, his female student, an ambulance driver and a nurse named Anna who runs a private business which is led by one of the males.

Distinctly and precisely directed by Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos, this rhythmic fictional tale which is narrated from multiple viewpoints though mostly from one of the central female character's point of view, draws a quiet and diverse portrayal of four members of a group consisting of two men and two women who has named themselves "Alps" and who offers people consolation in their grief by substituting for their loved ones who has passed away. While notable for it's naturalistic and mostly interior milieu depictions, sterling production design by production designer Anna Georiadou, cinematography by cinematographer Christos Voudouris, distinct use of light, dialog within dialog and acting within acting, this character-driven story depicts an acute study of character and contains a timely and efficient score.

This cinematic, situational and theatrically remarkable mystery drama which is set in Greece and where pretending to be a non-existing person and putting a shield on one's innate human emotions takes a toll on the only person in the group who thinks outside the box, is impelled and reinforced by it's cogent narrative structure, substantial character development, subtle continuity, rare characters, versatile perspectives, poignant and naturally occurring humor and ingenious acting performances by actresses Ariane Labed, Aggeliki Papoulia and actors Ares Servitales and Johnny Veksris. A sociological, minimalistic, cinematographic and invigorating character piece which underlines the hardships of being an actor or actress, the distinction between fiction and reality and which gained, among other awards, the Golden Osella for Best Screenplay Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou at the 68th Venice Film Festival in 2011.
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7/10
More Surreal Craziness from the Greek Master
Greek director Giorgos Lanthimos's second feature film "Alps" is just as thought provoking and bizarre as his Academy Award nominated debut "Dogtooth". He paints a very surreal picture that can be hard to understand, but somehow is still very engaging.

"Alps" is the name of a clandestine group of four people who offer a service to impersonate the recently deceased in order to help their clients through the grieving process. This group is comprised of a nurse, a rhythmic gymnast and her coach, and another man who is their leader. They are called the "Alps" because it is ambiguous and doesn't say what they do, as well as being irreplaceable. They meet in a gymnasium and don't go by their real names but are referred to by mountain peaks associated with the Alps. The leader is Mount Blanc, the Nurse and the stories main character is called Mount Rose.

The film is mainly focused on Mount Rose, played by Aggrelikki Papoulia who also starred in "Dogtooth" as the Eldest daughter. It is about the lost of identity and losing your connections to reality. Mount Rose is a nurse who lives with her elderly father, but also seems to be a playing the part of his late wife. She has several Alps clients and it is hard to find who the "real" Mount Rose is. The Gymnast and coach are another thing altogether, she is always in training and never seems to be ready. Mount Blanc is sort of a mystery. He is the quiet and stoic leader of the group who during a game of who would you most like to impersonate chooses Bruce Lee.

When Mount Rose breaks one of the rules of being an Alp she is cast out, this is where she loses her proverbial sh** and has a complete mental breakdown. Like trying to describe the meaning of a Salvador Dali painting, both "Alps" and "Dogtooth" just need to be experienced and usually more than once. Both movies are now available on Netflix watch Instantly.
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8/10
Think Guenirca, not Saving Private Ryan
lisuebie12 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
What happens when people insist on controlling one another? When they see the other only in terms of roles and obligations, not as individuals? When the primary interaction between those with power in relationships and those without is that the powerful take what they want, insist on conventional behavior from others and deny the weaker ones their desires and opportunities. When those denied must submit or die? What are the effects of even small acts of kindness? What is the effect of really seeing the other. Satisfying individual needs? This movie aims directly at the intellect and the gut, using a strikingly unusual metaphor as storyline. If you read the other reviews, you'll see it leaves many disappointed, irritated and confused. If you love patterns and puzzles you may enjoy this. Eventually. During the movie I was repeatedly briefly enraged, mostly just puzzled. Immediately after watching it, I wondered why the director thought he was entitled to waste 90 minutes of his viewer's lives with such coldness, sterility and artifice. By the time I woke up the next morning, the pieces began to fall into place. The actions and interactions of the gymnast and trainer during the first and last scenes, and the reason that the two scenes differ, encapsulate everything. After a lot of thought and piecing together, I see the movie as a brilliant piece of art. Unpleasantly, disturbingly, heart-rendingly brilliant.
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8/10
I think these films open your mind to NEW IDEAS and help you appreciate the smaller things in life.
Michael Mendez5 September 2015
If it is one thing I really love, it is being in a state of PARANOIA. In Yorgos Lanthimos's Alps, we follow a group of individuals, mainly gymnastic instructors, who basically began a business where they act as someones recently-diseased loved-one in order for the family (thinking of parents) cope with the grieving process. Sounds like a wacky story. Well, it is :).

As I like to mention before all my reviews, I have seen the previous work of Lanthimos. Mainly the very successful Greek film, Dogtooth, which is a dysfunctional family with the kids being taught the wrong things in order to be safe from the outside world. That one I loved.

BUT I ALSO LOVED THIS ONE! The small things that they do with the camera-work blows my mind. There are a lot of times where our main character, or so I think, simply named Nurse (played by Angeliki Papoulia who was in Dogtooth) speaks with another individual where we cannot see their face. It is either cut-out, blurred, or even covered by shadows. I love this. I have seen Kar-Wai Wong do it in a couple of his films. It adds a little mystery and confusion to the story. Do these people not matter? Will they matter? What have you!

The tone of the film is pretty much the same throughout it all. Some little indents here and there, but in my opinion, it is worth the watch, regardless how slow you think it is.

I just find it very fun to watch these type of people (broken) living there lives on a day to day basis. Not the major things they do throughout there day that effects them, but the small things that we rarely take notice of. Like small chit-chat with someone else, etc.

I must say, that as much as they seem they are pushing it away, I find this film very touching. The way they have to impersonate a family member who is dead makes up for the abnormal conversations. You can tell that when they are going through this process that they are acting; very badly, too. But that is how it would go. That is not something you can enjoy, nor hate. Nor will you think it's a good idea or bad. It just feels as though it is something to do.
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7/10
Alps
lasttimeisaw24 July 2012
A KVIFF screening, from the young and talented Greek director Giorgos Lanthimos, a follow-up of DOGTOOTH (2009), which was a dark horse nominee of Oscar's BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR and I haven't watched yet. But Giorgos' eerie approach of scrutinizing modern-day's communicative malaise has its overt justification in ALPS.

Absurd, genuinely designed, full of fits of laughters about the mimicking set pieces, the film presents itself in a more comprehensive elaboration than I expected, although initially, it takes some time to figure out the real occupation and motivation behind the self-dubbed "Alps"group (maybe Everest could be a more befitting name since its the highest mountain on the earth and its irreplaceability should be more cogent than Alps as long as height is concerned).

But the wacky "impersonating the deceased"groundwork is not potent enough to sustain the film into a genius employment, since the demanding of this type of service and its viability to perform its presumed obligation (to console the next-of-kins' grief) is a moot question here, and eventually a win-win condition has to yield to the conceptual willfulness (in the film it is the identity misconception, a spontaneously unsurprising aftermath). But performance-wise, leading actress Aggeliki Papoulia is a natural treasure, rendering the eccentric antics much more personal dedication (which also includes an equivocal default of the relationship between her and her father, another Alps' case or not?), I put her among my top 10 list of BEST LEADING ACTRESS line-up of 2011.

ALPS is a patchwork piece, nonetheless, Giorgos' one-of-a-kind singularity alone could be singled out as one of the most intriguing and cutting-edge film artist to bring some mondo gratification to cinema nerds.
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9/10
All credit cards accepted
Edgar Soberon Torchia24 April 2015
Two years after his international hit «Kynodontas», Yorgos Lanthimos released «Alpeis», which is as good as the previous, winning the Best Screenplay award at the Venezia film festival, as well as other distinctions in Sydney and Sofia. However the film was unjustly appreciated: as people say, "comparisons are unfair" and the reception of «Alpeis» proves it, as audiences and film critics were expecting another portrait of canine confinement. This time the filmmaker opted for theatricality, games of appearance and perception, he opted for a tale that fluctuates between drama and comedy, inclined to the absurdist aspects in the representation of reality. «Alpeis» is more realistic than its predecessor, but not because of this it lacks images expressing "artistic flights". On the other hand, Lanthimos touches death, a subject that frequently frightens people, when it is one of the few things we humans can have for sure. The story though does not present descriptions of demises, but a group called "Alpeis" that offers a peculiar service to mourners: a temporary substitute for the deceased, with a fixed fee, while the grievers adapt to the loss of their loved ones. Their varied clientèle includes the parents of a young tennis player, a blind and cuckolded old lady, a local man that communicates in English, a naval officer… At the same time the same personnel conforms a small group of gymnasts and trainers that gather in a sports hall. However the plot is built around a young nurse (played by splendid Angeliki Papoulia, who was the older sister in «Kynodontas»), her tribulations and twisting. The social and economic crisis of the country does not have a central place in Yorgos Lanthimos' cinema, as in the movies of other of his compatriots, but for the stories he tells Lanthimos vividly suggests that something is rotten in the state of Greece.
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2/10
How to become a cliché of yourself in just 2 films
arkid7729 July 2013
I'm amazed this film was so similar to the bizarre yet alluring debut feature by Giorgos Lanthimos, "Dogtooth".

Its for this reason that it really bombs in my opinion. The concept of the story, the stylisation, shooting, the dry emotionless delivery of the characters, the sex acts, the violence, the patriarchal characters within it, the submissive female characters, the fact he is using one of the same lead actors, etc etc.

I could go on. The film is just too similar to Dogtooth in every way. And if your going to make such a stylised film similarity stands out even more I feel.

This is Dogtooth but just less alluring. OK, maybe its just a more obfuscated story and one that is more challenging it could be argued. Still when you've seen the previous film this seems like a weak tweaking of the same formula.

If you haven't seen Dogtooth go see it! I recommend it. If you do by chance see this before Dogtooth maybe you can pass it off as interesting and at least very unique, however it's hard to think this with the knowledge of what came before it.

I really hope Giorgos Lanthimos can develop a lot for a 3rd feature and dig himself out of the stylistic hole he seems to have dug.
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2/10
Awful
zetes16 December 2012
Giorgos Lanthimos wowed critics with his somewhat entertaining freakshow Dogtooth a while back. This is his follow-up, and it represents all of the aspects of Dogtooth I hated and had none of the (very minor) strengths. It is, first and foremost, an enormous bore. The actual content of the film is negligible and it's absolutely full of pregnant pauses and unnecessary bits. What content there is is awful. It's a film about people who do things that real people would never do and acting ways people would never act. I frankly just don't see the point in any of this. The story revolves around a group of people (calling themselves the Alps) who will, for a fee, take the place of deceased loved ones. Like Dogtooth, there's a lot of nudity and humiliating sex, but there's nothing salacious or shocking here. It's all very clinical. About the only good thing I can say about the film is that Lanthimos definitely has a good eye for visuals. Really, though, I'd rate this as the worst movie I've seen from 2012 so far.
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1/10
A decent idea for a movie, but nevertheless a terrible movie.
george_revell1 February 2015
I enjoy alternative movies, I actively seek them out in fact as I find mainstream Hollywood rather dull and repetitive most of the time... and this IS an alternative move... unfortunately for the director it is however perhaps the worst I have ever seen. The main, principal story line of this movie had potential, but the way the director has actually created the movie is very boring and stupid. I advise that despite if like me you found the description interesting, you don't waste your time watching it, because I want my evening back. My partner also likes alternative movies and she also found the movie a waste of time. If this leaves you lacking a movie for tonight and you enjoy alternative cinema, go for a good David Lynch movie.
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6/10
Team dynamics? Business partnership dynamics?
djfnola28 August 2016
Does it matter what ties a group committed to a common goal together? Does it matter if their common passion is nefarious or altruistic? Do the members need strict unbreakable rules to cohere? Is the survival of the group more important than the survival of any member? Can a goal of the group be accomplished by an individual without the support of the group?

Lanthimos has my unreserved admiration. I assume he is looking at group dynamics perverted. I can't quite relate to this movie as recognizably human.

I had visceral understanding of Dogtooth. This is what we do as parents.

I had visceral understanding of The Lobster. This is what society demands of us.

No such connection to Alps.
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4/10
Isn't an Big Achievement
Anthony Iessi9 April 2017
It has a plot that is inspired, and delightfully surreal. But the execution of it is dreadful. The imagination does not run wild in Alps. Visual speaking, it is a huge letdown. Everyone in the film seems half dead, sleepwalking through the film. Grieving with death is a concept that only makes sense if it is dealt with accurately. Now, I know that Alps is a surrealist piece, but it just didn't resonate with me emotionally. It didn't hit me where it clearly wanted to.
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6/10
Surreal and blackly funny
Martin Bradley23 October 2016
The Greek director Yorgos Lathimos may possess the most perverse and idiosyncratic imagination in movies. After his Oscar-nominated breakthrough movie "Dogtooth" and prior to his international hit "The Lobster" he made "Alps", a completely off-the-wall 'comedy', (you might have trouble finding the jokes), about a group calling themselves 'The Alps', who stand in for the recently deceased in order to help the relatives through the grieving process. An American writer/director might have made this into a sci-fi/horror film along the lines of Frankenheimer's "Seconds" but Lathimos treats it like a fairy-tale, albeit not one you might tell your children. This movie has a surreal sensibility that is both disquieting and blackly funny. On hindsight, "The Lobster" might seem like a natural progression though God knows where Lathimos might go from here.
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5/10
So much potential wasted.
Manal S.23 August 2016
Alps was so close to becoming another brilliant Yorgos Lanthimos film but, unfortunately, it fell flat as nondescript, self-absorbed attempt at creating significance out of absurdity.

I know for fact that Lanthimos is brilliant and he is one of my favorite filmmakers, but I can't pretend to enjoy this one. I never complained about Lanthimos' abnormal-made-normal stories and techniques and I never will (I love them actually); this movie, however, lacked the glue that hold these elements together and came out as an uttered great line.

Alps is a good idea ruined by execution. Sorry, Lanthimos.
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