We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
"Alps" is a film peculiar beyond all understanding, based on a premise that begs belief. It takes itself with agonizing seriousness, and although it has the form of a parable, I am at a loss to guess its meaning. Yet I was drawn hypnotically into the weirdness.
Imagine a small group of therapists who call themselves "The Alps." They have been named by their leader, who explains that the title has no meaning. They hire themselves to people who have just lost loved ones. They impersonate those dead people as a way of bringing comfort to the bereaved. They don't necessarily look like the dead ones or sound like them, but they stand in for them a few hours a week, performing memorized dialogue that has presumably been supplied by the survivors.
Preposterous, will you agree? And yet their clients hire them and go along with the therapy. Not a single person in the film points out the absurdity of its premise. We don't get to know the clients very well, but we watch the Alps members as they train in an empty gymnasium. In particular, we follow a gymnast (Ariane Labed) and her trainer (Johnny Vekris), as they work on a routine involving her dancing with a long ribbon fluttering at the end of a baton.
She does this (very well) to classical music, but when she asks to change to pop music, he tells her he will bash in her face if she questions his authority. We find it is no idle threat. This brutal relationship has no apparent connection with the grief therapy of the Alps, which otherwise consists largely of memorizing dialogue.