Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (4/11/12)

Alice Doesn't Live Here AnymoreMovie Seventy Eight

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is one of  only four feature full-length films by Martin Scorsese I had never seen but had always heard about. To be honest, I didn’t think the film sounded very interesting but I was wrong.

For better or worse, depending on your opinion of the man, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore did not feel like a Scorsese film to me. Granted, this is from 1974 and one of his earliest works, but Ellen Burstyn is really the highlight of this movie.

Set in the desert, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is about a woman (Ellen Burstyn) who becomes a widow and decides to pick up from New Mexico with her son and travel to Monterey, California. Unfortunately, they run out of money and end up in Phoenix and then Tuscon, Arizona. Alice wants to sing, but ends up working as a waitress. She has to grow into her new role and deal with new rejections and romances.

If it sounds like a “chick flick” it kind of is, but no more so than a film like Thelma and Louise. A strong female lead tends to make people write movies like this off but Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore manages to be unique in several ways. First and foremost, the film is funny. Burstyn is an absolute joy, especially when dealing with her son. The movie also doesn’t take the road of “we had a struggle but now everything is magical” like so many current “chick flicks” do. We know Alice will do what it takes to get by and we know her life will probably not get much easier, but we know she will be okay.

While it certainly isn’t one of my favorite Scorsese movies, I would recommend it. The characters and their relationships are something missing from so many movies that could be lumped in the same genre as Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and that isn’t fair to it.

I give it 4 “can I touch your beard?”s out of 5.

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