Mirror Image – ★★
Dogtooth’s director Giorgos Lanthimos has ventured once more into the realm of disbelief with Alps, the tale of a troop of people pretending to be your dead relative to aid in the grieving process.
I’ll hold up my hand and say I didn’t like Dogtooth, it was an interesting concept with some novel ideas but in the end was too disjointed with an infuriating ending. One of the positive things about Dogtooth is that it intrigued me and caused a response even if it was negative. Alps doesn’t even manage this, again we have an intriguing notion but is incredibly bland and monotonous in its execution.
It takes some time to establish what exactly it is this unlikely group do for people. We have the leader Aris Servetalis – a paramedic at the local hospital, Johnny Wekris the rhythmic gymnastics coach, his student Ariane Labed and finally Aggeliki Papoulia, another worker in the hospital. Together they meet in a local hall and practice their routines. An unease is created at the start with the interaction between student and coach and while menacing, it doesn’t seem to hold any weight or real threat. This is felt throughout the film with scenes never quite delivering.
Dialogue is intentionally stunted and slow with the lack of flow making it impossible to disappear into the film. There isn’t a single moment where you don’t realise you are watching a film. With the constant repeating of lines or replaying of scenarios some humour is evoked but short lived as it returns to the clunky script. Aggeliki is the standout performance portraying many incarnations, thus revealing how alone and lost she is. While the actors are trying to ease the suffering of others it’s clear they are in search of a sense of belonging.
There is no doubt that Alps is cut from the same cloth as Dogtooth, but fails to engage with the audience leaving us cold. The central idea is novel but never truly explored – instead diverting into oddity and unease which doesn’t work, allowing us to surmise that a great opportunity has been missed.
Greece / Directed By: Giorgos Lanthimos / Written By: Giorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou / Starring: Stavros Psyllakis, Aris Servetalis, Johnny Vekris / 93min / Drama / Release: 9 November 2012 (Irl/UK)