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49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

For 16 years, Alice Tate (Farrow) has been ignored by her husband (Hurt), spoiled by wealth, and tranquilized by boredom. But when she unexpectedly falls for a sexy musician (Mantegna) and impulsively consults a mysterious Chinese herbalist for advice, Alice begins a madcap journey into a strange new world of possibilities. But as she begins to realize who she is and what she values, Alice must also confront her deepest fears and decide how far she'll go for love and what she'll risk to change her destiny.

Alice is one of Woody Allen's more grounded whimsies, though viewers with a low tolerance for feyness might miss it. Here goes Mia Farrow again as a nattering Manhattanite with a girlie-girlie voice and a well-to-do husband of 16 years (a stockbroker played by William Hurt) who doesn't always notice whether she's in the room. One day a back pain sends her up a dim staircase in Chinatown to see an acupuncturist (the valedictory role of the beloved Keye Luke). He has quite a bag of tricks--including hypnosis and a versatile assortment of herbal teas--and enough insight to recognize that Alice's troubles lie somewhere other than her sacroiliac. Under Dr. Yang's ministrations, Alice goes on a Wonderland voyage through her own life, fantasizing about having an affair with a dusky stranger (Joe Mantegna), flitting about Manhattan as an invisible spirit, and--most unlikely of all--talking straight with her various relatives, past and present.

Like so many Allen films, Alice wavers between scenes imagined with deftness and precision (like Farrow and Mantegna's astonished mutual seduction) and other scenes and notions that are merely touched upon and then abandoned before they can develop any rhythm and complexity, persuade you they were worth including, and justify the presence of so many nifty performers--Judy Davis, Judith Ivey, Gwen Verdon, Robin Bartlett, Alec Baldwin, Holland Taylor, Cybill Shepherd, Blythe Danner, Julie Kavner, Caroline Aaron--who mostly wink in and out again as cameos. Nevertheless, almost all Woody's looking glasses are worth passing through at least once. --Richard T. Jameson

Special Features

  • Collectible Booklet

Product Details

  • Actors: Mia Farrow, William Hurt, Joe Mantegna, June Squibb, Marceline Hugot
  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Writers: Woody Allen
  • Producers: Charles H. Joffe, Helen Robin, Jack Rollins, Jane Read Martin, Joseph Hartwick
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: Unknown
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: June 5, 2001
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005AUJH
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,652 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Alice" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By disco75 on October 31, 2001
Format: DVD
While I gave this film a 4 star rating, I have to say that it is one of the films I watch repeatedly. In "Alice," Woody Allen has taken his cue from Fellini's "Juliet of the Spirits" and assembled a better story and superior film.
The story of a disenchanted housewife finding her real desires and discovering the truth about her pampered but sterile existence is unfolded with such joy and air-light humor that I couldn't help but be charmed. The concept of self discovery after years of self delusion was explored in more somber ways in Allen's "Another Woman." Here, the use of magic potions are administered ostensibly to relieve Alice's psychosomatic discomforts. The cures actually allow the character vehicles for seeing her life from new perspectives.
Alice's descent into Wonderland is a great escape, very entertaining. Her character is an upper crust variation on ones she's done in other Allen films, but Farrow shows her range when, in the script's moment of intoxication, she moves in a split second from mousy uncertainty to voluptuous seductress. The humor is mostly character-driven and this mousse of a confection is a great way to remove oneself from the stresses of a long week.
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The US media cannot see it and thus will not tell you:

There is no joy in material wealth, only in absolute renunciation of wealth to give oneself to others in Love.

This is Allen's most well developed film technically with its stunning sets and exquisite cinematography, both by the best in the business of that time. The actors as well, from the briefest walk-on are top notch, and thus the New York review considers wasted. Not so; they are used exquisitely in perfect measure, and had no more to say. Brevity is the soul of wit, and their brief appearances merit another viewing. In fact for every reason this film demands another viewing, repeatedly.

In this film we find not only Allen's cinematic technical and directorial prowess on best display, but also his writing, which is profound and deeply moral and true and must be seen once more. There are two aspects to this writing, form and content. Like a modern novel, a form with which since Love and Death Allen has always wrestled, this film teaches you how to view itself. Like James Joyce's Ulysses (Gabler Edition), we are taught how to watch this film, and thus rewarded in further viewings. A professor here tells us how we read the voices in novels as interior monologues and ruminations whereas in film we see exterior speech to often devoid of the interior life.

This film is all about the interior life of the eternal soul as opposed to idle materialist empty orgies. We need that professor's indication to understand how to see this film, which begins with an interior musing over breakfast. See it again.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Ellington VINE VOICE on September 11, 2008
Format: DVD
The story or premise of `Alice' is quite simple, but Woody Allen's construction of the film and exploitation of the plot is far from it. Yes, `Alice' tells the story of a spoiled socialite who realizes that her life is far from a happy one despite all the so-called perks she receives and so she goes on a journey of self discovery that eventually ends in her happiness. Like I said, we've seen this before, but we have never seen it displayed in this manner.

Mia Farrow stars as Alice, and she pretty much reprises her role in Allen's superior `The Purple Rose of Cairo', playing her character somewhat mousy and underappreciated. The difference of course lies in her characters social status (Alice is wealthy, Cecilia was not) but Farrow's approach to character is very much the same. So Alice is married to Doug, a successful business man who doesn't seem to have too much time for Alice. When a back pain sends her to Dr. Yang, an acupuncturist who doesn't really do any puncturing, Alice gets the right dose of medicine to help her see that her pains are more mental than physical. Her life is not what she intended and it is up to her to change things. Throughout the course of her self discovery she finds herself in the arms of another man and spying on her husband's extramarital affairs with the aid of some herbs that make her invisible.

Yes, `Alice' goes there.

The film is outlined like your typical Allen film. People converse as if they were not on camera and banter back and forth about seemingly uninteresting topics that in the end prove to be all the more interesting to us because they are not what we expect to hear. Much like `The Purple Rose of Cairo' though, this film is tailored more towards the acceptance of the general public.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alan Jenkins on January 30, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This film is a lovely urban fairy tale. Mia Farrow is charming as a Park Avenue matron who seeks relief from her back pain and ends up re-inventing herself thanks to some magical Chinese herbs. There's a wonderful cameo appearance by a young, fit Alec Baldwin. Enhanced by Woody's typically nostalgic and totally apt musical choices. An extremely pleasant escape.
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