Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore review

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore is the worst Martin Scorsese film I've ever seen.
This isn't saying much, considering half of the guy's films are absolute masterpieces. I'm sure it's hard for him to measure up to his past successes like Raging Bull and Goodfellas every time he makes a movie, but he usually makes something great, if not better. He's bound to make a dud every once in a while, and even though I didn't like Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, it's in no way a dud. I consider Scorsese to be my favorite director, and I've seen most of his work. If you asked me my favorite movie, although this is a frustratingly hard and unfair question to ask, I'd probably reply with Goodfellas. I recently saw Scorsese's 1974 effort, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. I have to say I was a bit underwhelmed. The film's about a housewife named Alice Hyatt (Ellen Burstyn) who's fed up with her rough and insensitive husband and mundane suburban life. She wanted to be a singer, but instead she's confined to cleaning dishes and dealing with her smart mouthed son Tommy (Alfred Lutter). That is until her husband is killed in a freak car accident. Leaving her without a man and independent for the first time in her life. So, Alice sets off to do the one thing she knows how to: sing. Thus begins the journey. First off, this movie isn't terrible. I wouldn't even call it bad. Yet, it's not especially good. I had a lot of problems with it. Alice and her kid talk a lot of smack to each other during the film. At times it's cutesy and even witty, but after a while I was starting to think Alice was just a really crappy parent. The kind of parent that, while maybe not a bad person, is terrible with children. The kind that yells at their kid in the park in front of everyone when he drops his ice cream or complains one too many times. That made it really hard to feel sympathy or connect with the character of Alice at all. Her character was supposed to have flaws and be a bit of a damaged person, but she wasn't supposed to be as bad as the film accidentally makes her out to be. Their were times when I was obviously supposed to be feeling sad for Alice, but I wasn't. She was a mediocre person whose parenting skills were cringe worthy. How could I sympathize with that? In fact, there were very few people in the film at all who I could connect with on any level. The only person who I liked at all was Jodie Foster's character, Audrey. But she's only in the film for about twenty minutes. That wasn't the only problem. The film uses sappiness and crying scenes as a crutch to make up for it's lack of substance in other areas. It gets tiring after a while. When this movie came out it was portrayed for it's strong female character. While I applaud the writer on making a movie only about a girl, I don't think she was as strong as people thought. Alice has her willful moments, and for a while you think she really can live independently without a man. But in the end she succumbs and ends up falling in with another dude. It's supposed to be a happy ending, but maybe it should be looked at as a tragedy? I did have a lot of issues with the movie, but it really wasn't all bad. Although her character annoyed the hell out of me at times, Ellen Burstyn gives a terrific performance here as the titular character. She won an Oscar for the role, and I can see why. She portrays her character with a realism often absent from many performances. She's sad and angry, but she doesn't overdo it. If you're going to watch this for anything, do it for Burstyn's wonderful performance. Martin Scorsese has done better things, but his direction here is sharp and great. His fast and constantly moving camerawork is ever present here, and it really gives the film a boost. The film has a lot of issues, but Martin Scorsese really has nothing to do with them. The guy is a master director. This was nominated for Best Screenplay at the Oscars back in the 70's. I'll be honest, I'm not entirely sure why. It does have the occasional bit of smart dialogue and I guess it portrays it's characters somewhat honestly but it resorts to cliches and the dialogue is too unrealistic and stilted too often. I really didn't feel that it was that impressive of a screenplay. If I can say one thing for the movie, is that it's not boring. Although I obviously had a dearth of problems with it, I was entertained throughout the whole film. Alice is a lesser installment to Scorsese's canon but it's not bad by any means. Just very, very flawed. I suppose it's worth a watch, although I'd just skip it and watch Taxi Driver again. Happy Viewing. Remember to follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Thanks!

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