By Mr. Will Wong
Those of you who saw 2020’s Slavery Horror Antebellum, saw a nightmare realized right at the end as Janelle Monae‘s Veronica Henley escapes what she realizes was a Civil War re-enactment park where she was held captive as a slave. Writer/Director Krystin Ver Linden‘s directorial debut ALICE debuts at Sundance and was actually in development before Antebellum saw its release, though this Film begins where the imagined Antebellum, ends if you need a point of reference.
Ver Linden, who has worked with the likes of Quentin Tarantino, based this story on true accounts from actual people who remained enslaved after slavery had been abolished in 1865. This story centers on Alice (Keke Palmer), who has born into a life a slavery and this is all she has ever known. She serves the owner of her plantation, Paul (Jonny Lee Miller). That is until she begins to rebel and after getting into a violent fight with him, escapes successfully, only to realize it’s 1973 in Georgia and there’s an entire world out there she’s never seen. She gets the help of an Activist named Frank (Common) and left to her own devices, she finds out the truth about who she is and the life she was subject to. Alice makes it a mission to free all those others she left behind who were enslaved at the plantation.
Taking a cue from the groundbreaking Blaxpolitation films of the mid-’70s, paying direct homage in particular to the great Pam Grier, the Film takes a sharp tonal shift in its second-half, becoming a Revenge Thriller. We take no issue with the message which ALICE is conveying. It is cathartic and a platform for a new generation to benefit from learning about the gross injustices that shaped the African-American identity. We found the Film, though an admirable debut effort showcasing an all-in performance by Palmer, could have used a bit more detail, nuance and a more balanced pacing allocated to Alice‘s transformation. We found her progression a tad rushed and the Final Act unfolds all too quickly.
ALICE will see a theatrical release March 18, 2022 via Roadside Attractions, and can be seen at Sundance as follows:
- JAN. 23 8:15PM EST Available Until Jan. 23 11:15PM EST
- SECOND SCREENING JAN. 24 10:00AM EST Available Until Jan. 27 10:00AM EST
#SXSW: “ALICE” REVIEW
Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
When Alice comes to the realization that her husband has left her completely broke due to his addiction to escorts, she finds herself drawn into the life of high-end prostitution to save her home and provide for her son.
First-time Feature Director-Writer Josephine Mackerras has truly outdone herself with Alice. The complex Script and layered characters have created a Film with the ability to open people’s minds to the world of prostitution. Even though this Film has a lot to say about the world of escorts, it’s more of a story of one woman’s means at survival. Most importantly, it shows the way she chooses to control what she does in order to survive. The title role of Alice is performed captivatingly by Emilie Piponnier who expresses two contrasting emotions in every scene.
Alice won the Grand Jury Prize in the Narrative Feature Competition. It screens at SXSW on March 10 at 11 AM at Stateside Theatre, March 11 at Alamo Lamar C at 8:15 PM, and March 14 at at Alamo Lamar E at 8 PM.