Unrated (nudity, mild violence); 90 min.
Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos is a poet of the inappropriate response; a master of dialogue; an inventor of outlandish narrative premises that, in their extremity, cast a penetrating and often comic light on a wacko world.
In Dogtooth, a prizewinner at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and a 2010 Oscar finalist for Best Foreign Language Film, he depicts a family whose three adult children are confined by their dictatorial dad and acquiescent mom to a suburban villa sealed off from the supposed menace of the outside world.
Alps focuses on a small circle of people -- a gymnast, her trainer, a nurse, a paramedic -- competitively pursuing an agenda involving impersonation of the dead. The nurse (a drolly haggard and deadpan Aggeliki Papoulia) breaks the rules of the circle when she underhandedly grabs a role that isn't hers to have.
Lanthimos continually keeps you guessing about both the procedural and emotional logic at work in Alps, and his actors are with him every step of the way. One key element of his genius (and it does feel like genius) is the way he's able to make ordinary locales -- a gymnasium, a hospital corridor, a cozy apartment -- settings for dramas so meticulously perverse that they seem to be taking place in an alternative universe. With Dogtooth and, now, Alps, his cinematic style and subversions are instantly recognizable as his, and his alone. In Greek with English subtitles.
Exclusive: Texas Theatre, Dallas
-- Michael Upchurch,