Lanthimos’s exploration of cryptic and unnatural doings follows a secret society (called the Alps) consisting of a hospital night nurse (Angeliki Papoulia, the older sister in Dogtooth), a gym coach, a gymnast, and the group’s leader, a paramedic. The Alps offer a unique service: the recently bereaved can hire them for a few hours a week to act as surrogates for the deceased loved ones—by wearing their clothes, adopting their mannerisms and way of speaking, etc.—in order to help them adjust to their loss. In the director’s own words, the Alps “pretend to be other people in order to escape their own lives.” (The fact that the group’s members bear no physical resemblance to the people they’re standing in for doesn’t appear to matter.) With a disjointed and fragmentary narrative, Lanthimos creates a more severe, outwardly colder film than his previous ones—but it’s just as warped and absurdly funny.
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