"darkly comic, absurdist vision of (in) human relationships"
This is my second movie from Giorgos Lanthimas, director of 2010's "Dogtooth" which I saw and mostly enjoyed. Dogtooth had some laugh-out-loud moments of absurdity, that really got you thinking. The plot was sort of like examining a homeschooling experiment that went terribly wrong, and for that alone it was interesting. Unfortunately at times closer to the end of the movie, it didn't really seem to know WHERE it wanted to go. The hard right turns for the "heck of it" just seemed incongruent with the earlier flow of the movie.
Unfortunately Alps seems to suffer from some of the same negatives as Dogtooth without many of the positives. For me, there were no laugh-out-loud moments in this movie. Despite the "darkly comic" description in the Amazon tag line, this movie was mostly just dark and not so comic. On top of that, the approach that seemed to add to Dogtooth's appeal just got a bit tiring with this movie. The staccato delivery of monotone lines (used to decent affect in Dogtooth) just got old after a while in this movie. In Dogtooth, the children raised in isolation, trapped in their sealed-off existence, seemed compelled to speak in small barks, for fear they would get smacked by their father. There didn't seem to be a good reason all the characters in this movie would approach verbal communication in the same way as the characters in Dogtooth.
I also found the performances the actors gave kind of flat, but to be fair, I also think the director intended the characters to be flat, maybe beaten down by life, emotionally scarred, scared to live their OWN lives, etc, blah-blah. I've seen both the female leads in two different movies a piece now, and I'm not sure they could radiate warmth if their lives depended on it ("Attenberg" being the third movie, which the "Alps" director, Lanthimas, actually has a bit role in as well). I'd be curious if they could do a comedy.
Having a little more insight into the movie, a family friend in Greece knows both the director and main actress, and supposedly his approach includes a fair amount of improv (not so much of a solid script). I think that somewhat worked in Dogtooth, but here the excessive meandering really didn't appeal to me. There was interesting filming, framing and balancing of the elements on the screen, but the rest just didn't do much for me. Sometimes absurd is interesting. Sometimes it's just absurd. For me this unfortunately leaned more towards the latter. And the movie didn't really end, it just stopped. Sometimes that's intentional, and sometimes you just get the feeling the director just didn't know where to go. Again, more the latter than the former.
So why did I give it 2.5 stars? For being something different from all the excessively cliché crap that comes out of Hollyweed, and I didn't hate it. I just didn't enjoy it that much. If you're one for a nice, cleanly developed and executed story arc, with real character empathy, this probably isn't the movie for you. Greece is in a much bleaker place than 10 or 15 years ago, and maybe this just captures some of that. If you're depressed and lonely, and have problems relating to real people, this might be up your alley.