Alps ★★★

Conceptually, ALPS is an interesting reversal of DOGTOOTH. Rather than watching characters try to "break out" of some farcical, weirdly theatrical existence, here we're watching them try to "break into" some farcical, weirdly performative stage-world and assume completely false identities. In DOGTOOTH, Lanthimos was trying to show what it looked like escaping a fabricated role, whereas in ALPS he's now trying to show the nature of immersing yourself into a fabricated role, perhaps even as a way to escape a previous kind of fabricated existence. I wonder, did the eldest daughter in DOGTOOTH, after escaping her manufactured reality, become an actress in the "ALPS" troupe to cope with her former life? Does ALPS merely depict the world of aching people who've been imprisoned in the world of DOGTOOTH? These questions, while perhaps a stretch, are not entirely irrelevant considering how actress Angeliki Papoulia plays both the secret starlet in ALPS and the eldest daughter in DOGTOOTH. I don't think that was an accident on Lanthimos' part. Feels more intended to tell us something about the paradoxical nature of lying, the absurdity of performance, and the identities we create to escape oppression. 

Deception plays a key role in both films. In DOGTOOTH, deception is cynically rendered in abusive, controlling terms, where parents systematically manipulate their children's understanding of the world as a means of protecting them from harmful, outside traditions. In ALPS, deception is meant to be cathartic and beneficial, wherein a strange organization is hired by mourning relatives to impersonate their deceased loved ones as a means of comforting them during the grieving process. ALPS is the seemingly altruistic reversal to DOGTOOTH's existential distortions, as if Lanthimos is now trying to explore the therapeutic nature of deception. Does telling lies to ourselves help us heal? Do lies fill a hole in our souls that can't be filled with the pangs of truth? If there's some narrative semblance between Papoulia's roles in both films, it would seem that escaping one identity entails trying on another, and then another, and then another until you find the shoe that fits. It's like she jumped out of one matrix only to land herself in another. If she really did escape the car trunk at the end of DOGTOOTH and found herself in the real world, my guess is she’s now crippled in terms of surviving in the outside world and will have to adapt by role-playing. What better metaphor is there for surviving the oppression of DOGTOOTH than seeking comfort and playing make-believe in the world of ALPS? I'm tickled by how these two films speak to each other. ALPS wasn't a very compelling film to watch on its own, but I love thinking about it and how it relates (or doesn’t relate) to DOGTOOTH.

Lanthimos Ranked

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