Alice Tate, mother of two, with a marriage of 16 years, finds herself falling for the handsome sax player, Joe. Stricken with a backache, she consults Dr. Yang, an oriental herbalist who realizes that her problems are not related to her back, but in her mind and heart. Dr. Yang's magical herbs give Alice wondrous powers, taking her out of well-established rut. Written by
Carl Seiler <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Thelonious Monk's version of "Darn That Dream" appears on the soundtrack, the LP sleeve of "Monk's Dream" is shown, implying that Alice and Joe are listening to it. However the tune is not featured on that album. See more »
Woody returns to his beloved metaphysical turf, last seen in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S SEX COMEDY, STARDUST MEMORIES and THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO, in this weird and wonderful fantasy illustrating the existential angst of the vacuous, bored near-rich.
With the claustrophobic urban setting, rich dialogue, lush orchestration and highly-choreographed cinematography, ALICE also covers much of the same aesthetic and psychological territory as Allen's stunning HUSBANDS AND WIVES.
Although Allen is visually absent, this movie is about as close to pure, unvarnished autobiography as Woody will ever get (and all of his films are truly revealing). Allen appears both cynical and loving of the upper-middle class New Yorker lifestyle, a lifestyle he assuredly is intimately familiar with (and most likely has a love-hate relationship with as well). Hurt is a great Woody Allen clone, all of the whining and neurosis without any of the charm, almost as loveless a character as Richard Benjamin in DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE.
And Mia Farrow, in her little child hat and squeaky child voice, is an unformed child-woman, a non-person in a world of predatory men, and her emancipation, although supernatural, is nonetheless exciting and enchanting.
ALICE is super-existential, displaying vividly the whole notion of modern alienation in the garb of temporal non-existence. (Its great when Allen injects fantasy elements into his films, because it is as fantasist, rather than whiny orator, that he truly becomes a profound philosopher.)
Allen uses intoxication and hypnosis as excuses to weave intricate, innovative flashbacks, and Alice encounters some very Hamlet-like ghosts as well, who give her advise reminiscent of another great ghost-god in Allen's PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM. A classic scene occurs when Alice dumps a Chinese love potion into the punch bowl at a party, and every dork instantly wants to marry her! Allen very successfully covers some strange territory here.
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