FILM REVIEW: Alice (2019)

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Alice, from Writer/Director Josephine Mackerras, is a bold and audacious drama that digs deep Screen Shot 2019-10-06 at 1.33.43 PMinto the female psyche from start to finish. Martin Swabey, portraying the husband, Francois Ferrand, opens up the film with legendary French actor, Jean Gabin masculine looks and presence, while Emillie Piponnier, portraying the wife, Alice Ferrand, looks on with loving eyes. Jules Milo Levy Mackerras portrays, the couple’s innocent young son, Miles. Jules Milo Levy Mackerras portrays the couple’s young son, Miles.

Cinematographer Mickael Delahaie quickly draws focus into the world of Francois and Alice with his hand-held verite style camera operation as a world of love and friendship abounds – seemingly.

Life changes in an instant for the happy-homemaker, however, as she is forced to deal with harsh realities of the human condition as her husband has depleted their bank account and is months behind in the rent due to his penchant for a high-end escort service. Alice reaches out to family and friends for financial support but is stonewalled. Alice turns to prostituting herself in an effort to keep her home and take care of Miles after Francois disappears.

The journey becomes bumpy and is full of a few twists and turns as Alice finds friendship and a new soulmate in another prostitute, Lisa, who has no qualms in supporting herself with high-end prostitution. For Alice, however, the journey becomes bumpy and is full of a few twists and turns as she finds a liberation in living her life on life’s terms. Yet, the stigma of being a prostitution puts her in a precarious situation after Francois returns seeking reconciliation.

Alexander Levy Forrest adds a driving sound track that heightens tension in dramatic fashion when Alice discovers Francois has absconded after squandering their savings. Marsha Bramwell edits with a somewhat non-linear artistic edge that works beautifully.Meanwhile, Alexandre Montes keeps Alice and her newly found prostitute friend, Lisa, portrayed by Chloe Boreham (The Unicorn, 2018), fresh and enchantingly mesmerizing as they meet and become friends. Lisa becomes both a confidante and mentor to Alice.

Alice is in the running for the Nashville Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize, Bridgestone Narrative Feature Competition, after pulling down top honors for narrative at the 2019 SXSW Festival along with Mackerras winning the CherryPicks Female First Feature Award.

The film is in the French language with easy-to-read English subtitles and with a runtime of 103 minutes is very watchable, although American audiences might find the the business-as-usual depiction of prostitution a little off putting. Yet, Mackerras is a first-rate story-teller and delivers an exceptional package with strong production values, compelling performances and exceptional writing. In addition, she deftly poses questions of social ethics while inviting discussion on the topic of double standards in society. Highly recommended!

Alice is screening again at the 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival on Wednesday, October 9th, at 12:00 PM, Regal Hollywood 27,  Theater 4.

See you at the movies!


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