Review: Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)

alice

Wow, young Jodie Foster is all kinds of mannish!

Written By: Robert Getchell
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

The opening moments of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore are quite odd and the film never manages to drop that odd quality. I wish it would have, but it stays true to those odd qualities at the detriment of quality storytelling throughout. At times the movie feels like it slows itself down on purpose in order to accommodate the oddness that it wants to exude. This results in an overall slow pace and a meandering narrative that is a bit cumbersome to take in.

The saving grace of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore are the performances of Ellen Burstyn, Harvey Keitel and Kris Kristofferson. All three deliver strong performances, and overcome the odd nature of the film with raw emotion and an ability to easily relate whatever their characters are going through at any moment. Bursytn is clearly the star, she is given the most material to work with and is the most consistently excellent. But, the performances of Keitel and Kristofferson help to shore up the film.

I was also a fan of the banter between mother and son. It was witty and fun to take in. It was also very honest and true. It never felt overtly sentimental and through avoiding overt sentimentality and staying honest it felt more real than perhaps its was. There were also small moments of humor, most taking place in the diner and involving the waitress Vera, but the diner setting provided many a laugh.

My favorite non-acting aspect Of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore was the way that Scorsese handled the violence. Too often in is films Scorsese loves to use his camera to glorify the violence on his screen, he calls the wrong type of attention to it. The opposite is true in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, the violence is raw and ugly. It’s limited to one moment, but the movie had taken on an almost serene feel at that point and the violence erupts into the film, taking over all we see and bringing a veneer of ugliness.

At the end of the day Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore featured some great performances and was technically proficient with some flourishes story wise that I found appealing. But, on the whole it stops at the good movie level because nothing ever really happens. I was never compelled by what I was seeing, the film failed to completely pull me in. More often than not Scorsese delivers good pictures and nothing more, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is just that, a good picture and nothing more. But man, Jodie Foster is all kinds of mannish in this picture!

Rating:

***

Cheers,
Bill

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