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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Alice (1990)



Reviews and Comments

In a Woody Allen film, a happy marriage is never happy. That becomes apparent right off the bat in Alice, about a woman who married a rich man and now lives a structured life with everything she could ever want except passion.

That's the subject material, but you never really know where Allen is going to take it. For such a prolific writer-director that returns again and again to the same themes, it's surprising how fresh and unpredictable his work really is. Is Alice a drama? A comedy?

Well, both, but more than either, it's a fantasy. A whimsical exploration of love and relationships as if a tiny bit of the world on the other side of the Looking Glass spilled into this one. Above all, Alice is a supremely likeable movie. Amidst Allen's other films, it stands out, not necessarily in terms of overall quality, although it's a notch above the other movies he made in the early 1990s, but for how it makes me smile when I think of it.

This curious quality owes much to two of the actors. Mia Farrow, in one of her best performances, and most especially Keye Luke, who started his career playing Charlie Chan's #1 son in the 1930s and ends it with this film, more or less reprising his role from Gremlins: a strong but gentle sage with mystical powers. Luke has an amazing presence here, commanding but kind. Would that we all had a character like this to consult when times are tough.