Thursday, 25 December 2008

Alice


Alice; Fantasy tragicomedy, USA, 1990; D: Woody Allen, S: Mia Farrow, Joe Mantegna, William Hurt, Keye Luke, Alec Baldwin, Judy Davis, Bernadette Peters, Cybill Shepherd, Blythe Danner

New York. Alice is married to Doug and has two children, but finds her life boring. Since she has back problems, she goes to visit the mysterious Dr. Yang, who tells her she actually has personal conflicts. Under hypnosis, she tells him she was attracted to some man called Joe when she met him in the kindergarten. Dr. Yang gives her special herbs that make her invisible so she secretly observes Joe and his ex-wife. She also gets visited by the ghost of her deceased love, Ed. She finally starts an affair with Joe and decides to leave Doug after she finds out he cheated on her. But Joe decides to start again with his ex-wife. Alice leaves for Calcutta to be with Mother Teresa and returns as a self confident woman.

"Alice" is one of Woody Allen's lesser films, but in that respect it's quite a good achievement for itself that should maybe be seen alone for it's curious use of fantasy elements, rare for the author. Trying to craft a melancholic Felinniesque comedy, Allen crafted a different kind of movie that's unfortunately very unfocused, unorganised and without a clear sense what it wants to say or present, as if it's just a exercise for him. Allen flip-flops between different ideas revolving around the indecisive woman from the title, but in the end becomes as indecisive as her. Still, unlike many of his static dramas, "Alice" is surprisingly dynamic, with a good visual style and a more mainstream approach that shouldn't be blamed for it's weaker quality than expected, but for Allen's arbitrarily writing. Still, the scene where Alice and ghost Ed are flying over New York is charming, as well as the moment where she becomes invisible after drinking the magic herbs and uses it to spy on Joe who starts to make out with his ex wife. A small jewel is Keye Luke in his supporting role as the mysterious Dr. Yang, who directly tells Alice this when she comes to his apartment to treat her back problem: "Stop talking about the back! The problem not in back! The problem in here!", pointing to his head.

Grade:++

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