In a gymnasium, a handful of odd people calling themselves ‘Alps’ hangs out, connected by a fixation with the mundane details of the lives of people at death’s door – including a promising teenage tennis player in intensive care. Weird hobby? Exploitative enterprise? Search for identity? Greek filmmaker Giorgos Lanthimos might be best suited to a form that doesn’t really exist: the cinematic novella. Both 2009’s ‘Dogtooth’, about a perversely insulated nuclear family, and this follow-up have much to recommend them. They cultivate queasy suspense from banalities and unfurl with a dry-as-dust deadpan absurdism that covers a multitude of sins. They have a powerful feeling for the ways in which social and linguistic structures underwrite arbitrary but binding – even reassuring – power games. And they have a juggling, discombobulating way with intimate deceptions, sudden violence and nuggets of Hollywood fandom. Lanthimos’s films have the quality of latter-day fables and would grip and tantalise over 40 or 50 minutes. At twice that length, their obscene obliqueness must either wear thin or coagulate disappointingly into conventional narrative. Less might be more.
Cast and crew