Posted on Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 by Russ Fischer
Dogtooth has been a surprising film over the past year, first shocking audiences at Cannes with a depiction of a family whose dysfunction is more whacked-out than most would think possible, and then blindsiding awards prognosticators when it nabbed a Best Foreighn Language Film Oscar nomination.
Now director Yorgos Lanthimos is already in post-production on his follow-up film. Called Alps, the movie is likely to hit Cannes, and the director says it makes Dogtooth look like a kids’ film. Uh-oh.
The LA Times says the film “centers on a group of people who agree to stand in for others’ lost loved ones , replicating their behavior and gestures to help with the mourners’ grieving.”
OK, not a stretch to see how that idea could take a group of characters to some very dark, uncomfortable places. Imagine the outpouring not only of grief, but of long-buried negative feelings, that might erupt when a person wounded by grief has a chance to role-play a last encounter with the departed.
Turns out the director had talked about the film to The Playlist last year, saying
It’s mainly about death and substitution in a way. If you can substitute people that have died with other people and how difficult that can be. It involves the stories of many people, and I guess it has similarities with Dogtooth in its tone, because it’s quite dark as well, but is also funny and violet. It’s contradictory, like Dogtooth is.
The director said today, “[Alps] is darker and funnier. It goes to each extreme a little bit more.”
And that’s the thing that worries me just a bit. Dark and extreme is fine; self-consciously dark and extreme is something that feels really false and often can be spotted a mile away. If Alps is organically a really perverse movie, then so be it. That’s all I ask, that the material is driving the darkness, rather than the other way around. Either way, my curiosity is quite piqued.