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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Alps (Blu-ray)
Alps (Blu-ray)
Kino // Unrated // September 3, 2019 // Region A
List Price: $27.82 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted September 26, 2019 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

In a perfect world, the audience would go into any work by DARK comedy extraordinaire Yorgos Lanthimos completely blind. No trailers, synopses, not even the blurb on the back of the Blu-ray box. He brilliantly has no use for traditional exposition for his high-concept premises that are there not as easy genre spectacle and intrigue, but as astute and deliciously dry examination of the bizarre corners of what's supposedly everyday human behavior.

Without any primer to unlock the mystery, he plops the audience directly into the highly unconventional and borderline magical realism (In the case of The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, you can take out the borderline part) world of his movies. Dogtooth, the authoritarianism satire masterwork that put him on the map, takes up almost an hour of the runtime until we get a full picture of what's really going on. Even though The Lobster gradually sets up its rules, have fun deciphering the bonkers hook that opens the film. Even The Favourite, which is more of a character study than a plot-driven narrative, contains various left-field surprises.

Alps, Yanthimos' follow-up to Dogtooth, certainly follows in those footsteps. For the first act, we see a crew of hospital workers asking patients who think they will die random questions, from their personal passions to their favorite actors. They become unconventionally close to families and people who are grieving their loss after the patients die. For their odd service, they call themselves The Alps, and give each other nicknames based on the mountains in the region. Going perfectly with Lanthimos' absurdist tone, of course these designations are random, and have no thematic connection to what they do. Gradually, we begin to get a complete idea about what it is that they actually do, yet their motivations for why they do it remains a mystery.

Like I said, go into Lanthimos' films knowing as little as possible, so I'll just give you the more vague thematic description that Lanthimos deftly and boldly explores. It's about yet another desperate attempt by the human soul to make sense and make peace with a painful part of existence. In the case of Alps, it's grief, and how each person has their own way of dealing with it. The film is essentially an anthology of moments depicting The Alps serving their clients in their unique ways, as much of the film's own sense of humor and tragedy (Sometimes both in the same moment) derives from these attempts to make peace with such horrific loss.

Alps gets a slightly lower grade from Dogtooth since it lacks that film's gradual rise in intensity and an overall fascinating story structure. Alps is more of a monotone experience, perhaps in keeping with the monotone sadness of its subject matter. Whatever plot progression we find comes in the form of one of the Alps (The stoic but somehow intense Algeliki Papoulia) getting too close to her clients, calling for repercussions from the rest of the crew. And even then, if you've seen one Lanthimos film, one shouldn't expect a traditional closure.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

The grayscale and purposefully lifeless aesthetic of Lanthimos' Greek work is prevalent in Alps as well. The 1080p transfer perfectly captures the drab colors and the oppressive feel of the cinematography. It also contains a healthy amount of grain for that cool art house feel.

Audio:

The DTS-HD 5.1 track is all about the ambient noises that add so much character to the film's mood. Otherwise, this dialogue-based affair, filled with lots of silent moments, is all about the center channels. In that sense, the audio does the film justice.

Extras:

Commentary: Film Historian Amy Simmons appear to be reading from her notes on the film and Lanthimos' work. She comes off a bit monotone at parts, but the information within the commentary is well worth it for the fans.

We also get a Trailer.

Final Thoughts:

Perhaps not as impactful and uniquely bizarre as Lanthimos' other work, Alps is still certainly a worthy part of this exciting and singular filmmaker's journey.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com

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