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Alice

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ALICE

US, 1990,106 minutes, Colour.
Mia Farrow, William Hurt, Alec Baldwin, Joe Mantegna, Blythe Danner, Judy Davis, Bernadette Peters, Gwen Verdon, Cybill Shepherd.
Directed by Woody Allen.

Alice is Mia Farrow in her twelfth film for Woody Allen since 1982. Once again she gives a different, effective performance. She is a wife with a wealthy husband (William Hurt), servants, gossipy friends in the perpetual pedicure set. She is also a lapsed Catholic - and Catholicism has shaped her conscience. An attraction to a fellow parent (Joe Mantegna) and advice, herbs and some wizardry (including her being able to become invisible, fly and see ghosts) changes her life. So does her awareness and some film footage of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Woody Allen has been influenced by Federico Fellini, especially with Stardust Memories and Fellini's 8 1/2. His Radio Days could be paralleled with Fellini's Amarcord. Here the parallel is with Juliet of the Spirits in which Fellini explored a wife, her memories, Catholicism.

The film is often funny, not hilarious, with Alice becoming more and more sympathetic. It is a pleasing character study. The ending is simplistic though real (thanks to Mother Teresa) and Allen enjoys sending up the shopping and hypochondriac Manhattan set. There are quite a number of cameo performances from stars like Judy Davis, Blythe Danner and Cybill Shepherd with Bernadette Peters as Alice's muse.

1. The work of Woody Allen? His views on life, people? Insights into human nature? Wit and satire? Manhattan and New Yorkers?

2. Woody Allen influenced by Federico Fellini? In previous films? Juliet of the Spirits - and Fellini directing his wife, Woody Allen directing Mia Farrow? The Catholic background (of Mia Farrow herself)? Memories, fantasy, change?

3. The relationship between Mia Farrow and Woody Allen as manifested in their films? Her career, her versatility? Drawing on her own background, Catholicism for her characterisation of Alice?

4. Woody Allen's Manhattan, New York settings, affluent, apartments, the business world, the media, schools? The score - and the range of old songs?

5. The title, Alice, Alice in Wonderland, Alice Blue Gown?

6. The portrait of Alice: age, experience, wife, mother? A New York woman? Lapsed Catholicism? Conscience, guilt? Her dreams? The father, the opening fantasy and her relationship with him - and reality? Her relationship to her husband, the detail of home life, the servants? Her expectations of life? Home style, children, school? Her friends, social chatter? Health concerns, meals, budgets, consultations? Art dealers and lavish prices and specials? Consultancy to doctors? The hairdresser sequences etc?

7. Her meeting the Chinese doctor, personality, treatment? The tablets? The results - her vanishing in the shop? Able to see ghosts? Being able to fly? Using her invisibility, with the father? Her memories, going back into the past, the picture of her parents, upbringing, understanding them? Revisiting the doctor, trying to understand what was going on? Her smooth talk and seductive style with the parent? Her daring? Falling in love, facing the truth? Her disappearances, tracking people, discovering the truth about her husband, her disillusionment? The challenge, Mother Teresa and the lecture, her decision to act?

8. The spoof of hypochondriacs, wealthy society women? Alice wanting to move out of this society? The impact of the information about Mother Teresa, her going to Calcutta, its effect on her, the ending? Moving to an ordinary way of life, leaving her husband, with her child?

9. The bland husband, self-centredness, his relationship with Alice, their lifestyle, smooth lies? The office party, Alice's invisibility, the secretary, the affairs? His double-dealing?

10. The contrast with the father at the school, his place in Alice's fantasies, the aquarium? The reality, their meetings, Alice standing him up, leaving the meal, her manoeuvres to get out of the house, the taxi and hurrying? Her fears? His reaction to Alice? His relationship with his wife, the separation, sexual tension? The glimpse of his wife? The flashback of his being invisible and hearing his wife with her therapist? Talking things over with Alice, the decision to break? His character, the breakdown of his marriage, the credibility of the reconciliation?

11. Alice's family, the visit to her sister, the long clashes between them, rivalry, talking things out, some kind of meeting of minds and hearts? Her memories of her parents, her mother? Domination? Freeing herself of the family pressures?

12. The dead boyfriend, his appearances, their discussions, his being a ghost, flying with her? Understanding herself and her relationships?

13. Her school friend, the media, the slick businesswoman, the world of ideas, media treatments, Alice's stories, her discussing with her friend, her seeming inept, the business style of her friend? Double-dealing?

14. The brief appearance of Bernadette Peters as Alice's muse, her comic style, interaction with Alice, jokey? Inspiration?

15. Alice, the transformation of her life, finding herself, moving beyond expectations, authentic?

16. Woody Allen's skill in portrait-making, accuracy of observation, the touch of the spoof and wit, critique?

Created by: coffey last modification: Tuesday 16 of March, 2010 [23:36:58 UTC] by malone


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