Alps (Kino Lorber, NR)

alps sqI can barely remember what it’s about or what happens in it.


alps 500

On Halloween night 2010, I wandered over to the Webster Film Series and saw the Greek film Dogtooth, a movie I’d heard was good but knew little about at the time. It turned out to be a game-changer. I ranked it as the second-best film from that year (and it was a very strong year for movies); its writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar (not that it was undeserved, but that’s roughly akin to John Waters being nominated for Best Director); and there has been something of a boom in new Greek cinema since (most notably, post-Dogtooth with Athina Tsangari’s Attenberg, in which Lanthimos appears as an actor). This year, the Webster Film Series is showing Lanthimos’ follow up, Alps, near Halloween, and my hopes were high.

Somewhere along the line I read a quote from old Yorgos where he said (and I paraphrase) that he doesn’t care if any specific person loves his movies or hates his movies, but the thing he most desperately wants to avoid is to make a boring or forgettable movie. This, to me, is about as promising a mission statement as a director could ever make. Sadly, though, Alps is both boring and forgettable. Sure, it’s weird, and sure, there are some interesting sequences, but as I write this review it’s been less than two weeks since I’ve seen it, and I can barely remember what it’s about or what happens in it.

To cobble together my vague memories plus the distributor-provided plot synopsis, Alps is about three people who form a company in which hire themselves out to stand in for dead people. The three people are a nurse, a paramedic, and a gymnast in their more normal day jobs. The leader, the paramedic, goes by Mont Blanc (Aris Servetalis), and the nurse is played by Aggeliki Papoulia, the very brave actress who so memorably played the lead in Dogtooth (she’s the nameless older daughter, if you’ve seen the film).

It’s disappointing to be at a loss for words in talking about this film—it’s just weird enough to be hard to describe, and just boring enough to be difficult to be able to remember. That’s a pretty deadly combination when writing a film review. And how odd that the director of Dogtooth could have made something as dry and unprovocative as this turned out to be. I’ll still do my best to follow him anywhere he chooses go artistically, but here’s hoping that his next film sticks in my brain a little better. | Pete Timmermann

Alps screens at the Webster Film Series at 7:30 p.m. October 19–21. For more information, visit or call 314-968-7487.

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