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Alpeis | Yorgos Lanthimos, 2011
Greece | Format: 35mm | 93 minutes
Another exploration of cryptic and unnatural doings from the director of Dogtooth. The film’s title is the name of a secret society consisting of four members: a hospital night nurse (Aggeliki Papoulia, the older sister in Dogtooth), a gym coach, a gymnast, and the group’s leader, a paramedic. The Alps offer a unique service: the recently bereaved can hire them for a few hours a week to act as surrogates for deceased loved ones—by wearing their clothes, adopting their mannerisms and way of speaking, etc.—in order to help them adjust to their loss. In short, in the director’s own words the Alps “pretend to be other people in order to escape their own lives.” (The fact that the group’s members bear no physical resemblance to the people they’re standing in for doesn’t appear to matter.) Well placed to spot potential clients, the nurse develops an imaginary friendship with a teenage tennis player hospitalized and close to death after an accident: when the girl dies, the nurse tells the other Alps that she has instead made a miraculous recovery, and then goes to work on the dead girl’s parents. With a disjointed and fragmentary narrative, Lanthimos creates a more severe, outwardly colder film than his previous—but it’s just as warped and absurdly funny.