Sunday, January 27, 2008

Film Review: Alice's House [from Brazil]

Eric Green

Alice's House
[A Casa De Alice]
FiGa Films
Brazil, Sao Paolo
2007 [Released in NYC; January, 2008]

Carla Ribas was interviewed at the time of the 2007 Miami Film Festival [see the web interview] on what attracted her to the film, Alice's House. She said that she is from Rio while all of the other actors in the film are from Sao Paolo. Ms. Ribas said that that put her in a position similar to the character she was playing, in that, she felt very alone during the production process. She said that the importance of the film is that it gives an insight into the life of a working class person from very poor circumstances, a person, Alice, who doesn't feel anything she does and thinks counts for anything.

In this film Alice works at a beauty salon as a finger and pedicure specialist. Her husband, Lindamor, played by Ze Carlo Machado, works as a taxi driver.

Alice and Lindamor have three sons aged from 17 to 21.

The glue of the family is Alice's mother Dona Jacira, effectively played by Berta Zenel. She is in failing health with serious sight problems. Zenel's acting strength comes, not from her lines, which are few, but from her body motion and facial expressions.

While Alice and Lindamor suffer the fierce class struggles of Sao Paolo, it is up to Dona Jacira to keep the family together by providing the meals and cleaning up after all 5 family members.

Of course she does this work without any appreciation and, in fact, Lindamor is jealous of her centrality to the family and plots her removal to a hospital, "for her own good." She reminds Lindamor that the apartment they all live in is in her name.

The acting of Renata Zhaneta as Carmen, Alice's main customer, and another woman who displays the working class situation in Brazil, is amazing.

The three sons, each have their own life and story, which young viewers would identify with.

Chico Teixeira, the Director of the film and one of three screen writers, weaves a perfect "slice of life" story that, along with amazing filming which puts the film goer close to, if not within the family fabric. It is probably due to his over 20 years of documentary filmmaking that gives him the ability to accomplish his goal.

What is life in Sao Paolo, a city of over 20 million, for the working class? See Alice's House.

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