In ALPS, an unorthodox support group for grief is formed by a nurse, a paramedic, a gymnast, and the latter’s coach. Their approach to counseling is to act as a stand-in for a client’s recently deceased loved one, thus giving the dead person’s family a way to assuage their sorrow.
The reasons compelling the group’s activities are unexplained, which propels a fascinating dynamic that ties them together. But within this story, Oscar-nominated director Yorgos Lanthimos (“Dogtooth”) does more than showcase the intellectual aspects of the grieving process; he explores both the profound sadness and the sheer absurdity of the human condition. With the same reasoning that dictates how the group refers to itself, the film carefully chooses what it reveals, and when.
Skilled photography and a hypnotic tone are among the factors that lure viewers into the lovely, disconcerting world of the ALPS; another is a stellar ensemble cast, including Aggeliki Papoulia’s exceptional performance. Difficult to categorize, this modernist Greek turn is definitely a film to seek out.
Giorgos Lanthimos was born in Athens and studied directing at the Hellenistic Cinema and Television School Stavrakos. He has made commercials and music videos, as well as experimental theatre. His other features are 2005’s KINETTA and 2009’s DOGTOOTH, and he co-directed the 2001 film MY BEST FRIEND with Lakis Lazopoulos.