Plot: What’s it about?
Alice Tate (Mia Farrow) has lived a life of wealth and comfort, but has little affection and satisfaction. She has been married for over sixteen years and has two children, but of late, her husband has ignored her. In truth, she has become bored to death with her life and would love a change, but she has little hope that will ever happen. But when out of the blue she falls head over heels for a musician named Joe (Joe Mantegna), it seems like that change could be just a little ways off, after all. She then consults a Chinese herbalist for advice on her back pain, but discovers her troubles are found elsewhere, like her heart and state of mind. Soon enough, Alice takes some special herbs and finds herself in a whole new world, one in which she controls her fate and all sorts of new chances have opened up. But how much of this new realm will Alice experience and in the end, how much will she risk to experiment with her new state of mind.
I am not a fan of all of Woody Allen’s films, but I do like many of them, though Alice comes in a timeframe I am not too fond of in Allen’s career. I prefer his earlier films and all out comedies, but this comes during a more artistic time for Allen, so it doesn’t rank among my favorites. But I do like Alice and it has some wonderful moments, so I won’t call this picture a failure, not by any means. Allen supplies an intelligent script and his usual outlook on love, but he also adds in some new touches, such as the whole supernatural angle we see. I wouldn’t call this a shot out of left field for Allen, but he does include some very fresh elements, which seem to pan out well enough. Mia Farrow shines in the lead role, while a superb supporting cast ensures the movie retains depth, which is welcome. I like this movie much more than Allen’s other films made around this time period, but I wouldn’t rank it with his best works. Even so, I recommend this movie to those interested and since MGM has issued the disc just as Allen desires, it’s more than worth the cash.
This flick has an impressive ensemble cast, but Mia Farrow stands above the crowd, in terms of presence. I wouldn’t say I am a fan of Farrow’s work, but I do think she is talented and when given the right roles, she can excel. This is one such role and Farrow runs with it, lighting up the screen in the process. Allen’s script allows her to really show off her skills and she does just that, in what I feel is one of her strongest performances. I don’t think this an easy role per se, but Farrow is able to make the needed transitions without much trouble, a true compliment to her gifts in front of the camera, to be sure. You can also see Farrow in such films as Rosemary’s Baby, Supergirl, Shadows and Fog, Another Woman, New York Stories, and Widow’s Peak. The cast also includes William Hurt (Sunshine, Dark City), Joe Mantegna (Thinner, Body of Evidence), Alec Baldwin (The Shadow, Outside Providence), and Blythe Danner (Meet The Parents, The Prince of Tides).
Video: How does it look?
Alice is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is a terrific looking presentation and in the end, is the best this movie has ever looked on home video. The print is clean enough and shows little grain, which allows the other elements to shine. The colors look bold and richer than expected, but no errors surface and flesh tones seem normal also. I saw no problems with the contrast either, as blacks were stark and detail never wavers. A few small flaws aside, this is a heck of a transfer and should please fans.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included mono option is more than solid, but of course, has the usual limitations of the format. The music sounds clean and well presented however, while the various sound effects surface in fine form also. I heard no hiss or harshness either, a clean and quite impressive track, given that it is mono. The focus is the dialogue and it sounds great, so I have no real complaints to make here. This disc also includes language options & subtitles in Spanish and French, just in case you’ll need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.