Dogtooth director Yorgos Lanthimos returns this year with Alps. He has promised this film will be darker, stranger and funnier than Dogtooth, his polarizing portrait of a very messed-up family that became an unexpected Best Foreign Film Oscar contender. We’ve seen a few images from Alps, which is about three people who aid the grieving process of strangers by standing in for their deceased loved ones. Now we’ve got a teaser, which doesn’t offer a damn shred of info about the plot, but does poke fun at the notion that the film is archly serious festival fare.

IndieWire has the teaser premiere. This is the synopsis we’ve had in the past:

A Nurse, a Paramedic, a Gymnast and her Coach have formed a service for hire. They stand in for dead people by appointment, hired by the relatives, friends, or colleagues of the deceased. The company is called Alps while their leader, the Paramedic, calls himself Mont Blanc. Although the Alps members operate under a discipline regime demanded by their leader, the Nurse doesn’t…

I got a big kick out of the teaser. The snippet from ‘O Fortuna’ (from Carl Orff’s cantata Carmina Burana) has been so well-used in film (thanks for establishing that, Excalibur!) that it will probably generate an instant response, perhaps even an eye-roll, from many viewers. But then the only dialogue spoken in the short teaser undercuts the idea that everything is as serious as ‘O Fortuna’ implies.

Perhaps a better insight into the film is this list of rules that governs the Alps, that being the group formed by the film’s characters. This list comes from the press kit for the film, which also includes a set of photos that look more like Radiohead liner notes than film stills. See what the following list tells you about the film’s story, if anything:

THE 15 RULES OF THE ALPS
Alps members:

  • 1. Must declare in advance the things they are unwilling to do by filling out Form (e.g. kissing, lifting weights, travelling etc.)
  • 2. Must declare in advance the things they are good at by filling out Form (e.g. dancing, waterskiing, discussing etc.)
  • 3. Must have some basic knowledge of psychology and sociology.
  • 4. Are obliged to support, under all circumstances, the interests of the Alps group.
  • 5. Must respect each other.
  • 6. Have the right to change their nickname only twice. They cannot choose a nickname belonging to another Alps member. The nickname must strictly be the name of a mountain in the Alps, and not something general or irrelevant (e.g. Blonde, Master, Dragon etc.)
  • 7. Can never talk about Alps activities with non-Alps members.
  • 8. Are obliged to take the Gymnastics Club Test, if necessary.
  • 9. Must be over 14 years of age.
  • 10. Should always be smart, clean, punctual, and in complete control.
  • 11. Must never get emotionally involved with clients, or have intimate relations with them.
  • 12. Cannot change their physical appearance without the Leader’s permission (e.g. dye hair, lose or gain weight, wear coloured contact lenses etc.)
  • 13. Must be able to make convincing facial expressions (sadness, happiness, despair etc.)
  • 14. Must honour the title of their membership, and be ready to kill or die for it.
  • 15. Must never attack one another, and must believe in teamwork.

Mont Blanc, Leader of the Alps group
January 2008

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