That's it. I'm calling it. ALPS is a case of the Emperor's New Clothes. I don't care if writer-director Giorgos Lanthimos became the darling of the indie cinema with his movie DOGTOOTH - a supposedly hilarious black comedy and social satire on contemporary bourgeois Greek society. I don't care if ALPS is being called one of the festival's best - the "cinema of the absurd" - that deliberately uses shitty cinematography to portray that "unknowability" of its protagonists - a movie who's big idea is never really developed - never convincingly explored. ALPS isn't blackly funny - yes there is one lines delivered in such a bald monotone that it's funny - the one line reviewers cling to in describing the movie as a black comedy - but it isn't consistently scabrous in the way that truly great social satire or absurd cinema should be. And it doesn't earn the right to portray events as gruesome as an attempted suicide. I know writers Giorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou are trying to make "big" points about modern society. I know they are trying to depict a society and people so messed up that women wilfully submit to tyrannical, violent men; that grieving families would pay a stranger to imitate (badly) their loved ones; that a lonely girl would lose herself in the illusion. But it's all done in such a deliberately lo-rent, poorly written, ambiguous manner that it's impossible to truly connect with it. Maybe Lanthimos wants to distance us? Maybe this is the effect he's looking for? But at the end of the day it created, for me, a very boring, unrewarding film-watching experience. I really just didn't care.
ALPS played Venice, where Giorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou won the Golden Osella for Best Screenplay. It also played Toronto and London 2011. It opens in Greece on October 27th.