Alice’s House is just what a director’s first film should be – full of both flaws and promise. Several things are wonderful about the movie, foremost among them the luminous lead, Carla Ribas. She gives us a Brazilian reprise of Ann Bancroft’s Mrs. Robinson, a compellingly sexually attractive woman of 40-something. The other actors are equally well-cast, well-directed, and persuasive. The writing and filming give us what seems an authentic feel of the daily life of ordinary people in Brazil.
Sadly the editing, and filming are not of the same quality as the casting and acting. The story, a tale of the decay and collapse of a dysfunctional family, may also be a metaphor of Brazilian society. But it is presented as one damned thing after another, with no development of any of the themes or issues raised, like a soap opera, which it eventually comes to resemble. The filming starts with closeup face shots, stays with closeup face shots, and ends with them. When they are shots of Carla Ribas it is hard to object but one soon says, “Enough already!”
Another difficulty is that most of the men are seen as mindless sonsofbitches while most of the women are seen sympathetically though all are equally adulterous and self-seeking. Another reviewer said that if the movie had been made by a woman it would have been dismissed as “shrill”. But political correctness is tedious no matter who the perpetrator is.
Alice’s House shows the downside of making movies with a miniscule budget – the second tier semi-technical people like editors, cinematographers, lighting people, were just not up to the level of the actors and director. For Chico Texeira to have done this good a film with so little support makes me look forward to his next film, which presumably will have more. And if Carla Ribas is reading this, please call me.