Wednesday, 30 December 2009


Widowed by a horrific car accident, Alice Hyatt decides to pursue the singing career she had kept on hold for her marriage. Taking her son Tommy with her, she sells off her personal effects and travels to Phoenix, Arizona, working evenings as a chanteuse in a sleazy bar. It is here that she meets the younger Ben, who seduces her into a turbulent affair. As it becomes clear to Alice that he is the last man she needs, she ups sticks once again for Tucson, where she takes a job as a waitress. Though initially mistrustful of her new surroundings, she settles into the fabric of the community and begins to warm to frequent customer David. The two embark upon an uncertain relationship, and Alice is left once again to ponder her future.

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is that rarity: a cinematic masterpiece with commercial appeal. Scorsese’s direction is outstanding, the handheld camerawork doing nothing to interrupt Alice’s unstoppable journey. Ellen Burstyn, rewarded with an Oscar for her efforts, does a superb job of portraying a woman suddenly liberated from her domestic duties, particularly as she was simultaneously shooting The Exorcist. Alice is an unusual character, a childish tearaway confined by the adult responsibility of a family. Her relationship with son Tommy, a precocious yang to her yin, keeps her spirits up throughout the film, and spawns some brilliantly sarcastic exchanges: “Life is short.” “So are you.” Look out for a particularly masculine Jodie Foster as Tommy’s friend Audrey.

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