“Death is the sanction of everything that the storyteller can tell. He has borrowed his authority from death.”

—Walter Benjamin

Alps is a film about the lure of fiction.

Through a sombre and surreal drama set in contemporary Greece, director Yorgos Lanthimos conducts a deadpan interrogation of the ambiguous role of storytelling in our lives – and deaths.

The Alps are an unlikely group four individuals who hire themselves out as stand-ins for the recently perished. Providing a form of obscure therapy, they reenact memories – or perhaps fantasies – at the behest of the bereaved.

Their transmutation of past lives into present fictions show what Walter Benjamin intimated: that death snaps life into narrative shape. The Alps see a business opportunity in borrowing its authority. 

Lanthimos’s film plays out in murky, stage-like interiors, amplifying the ambivalent theatricality which its characters trade in.

These disparate settings are sparsely connected, creating a potent atmosphere of dislocation. 

The film demands your attention with a surly poker face.

Woven through the film is a subplot following the ambitions of one of the Alps - a rhythmic gymnast training with a masochistic coach.

The repetitious motions of her routines echo the repeated and revised scenarios enacted between the mourners and actors.

Together, these narratives make oblique suggestions about how rehearsal might be a potent form of performance in itself.

Alps is a bracingly icy drama about the leaky borders between life and death: a necessary watch about unavoidable topics.

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