I watched Alice (1990) for the first time in a long, long time and realised it is one of my favourite Woody Allen films.
The warmth of it. The soft music, the reminiscence, the lost and unhappy character of Alice (Mia Farrow) who, unable to sleep, wanders into her living room and is reacquainted with her past and the vision of her late boyfriend Eddie (Alec Baldwin):-
Alice: Who’s that?! Who’s there? … Who’s there?! Who is it?
Eddie: Don’t you remember?
Oh! …That voice!
Alice. Alice Jansen
Eddie?! Is it Eddie?!
Hi ya sweetheart
Is that you?!
God you’re even more beautiful now. It’s been almost 20 years.
I thought of you the other day. I met an interesting man who kind of reminded me of you … he’s like you, he’s irresponsible and temperamental but he’s cute, you know? …. What’s wrong?!
I feel very, very strange! …. It’s the oddest sensation. I feel like I’m fading. I am fading. What’s happening?! Here it goes. [his image and voice disappearing] It was great seeing you again …. You’re still wonderful.
Melancholic yet wonderful. Poignant and romantic.
There was also the rustic and cosy rooms of Chinese herbalist Dr Yang into which I escaped (from real life, from the prospect of work? I’m still not sure) with Alice.
It was no surprise the film got Allen a Writers Guild of America nomination (and Farrow a Golden Globe nomination); not that he cares – to Allen awards are just opinions. Inexplicably, some people are affected by a particular work of art, others aren’t.
Respected film critic Geoff Andrew wasn’t affected by Alice. He chose the unfortunate term ‘whimsy’ (“the silly whimsy of the fantasy interludes”) to dismiss the above scene, as did Leonard Maltin: “the whimsy seems forced and Allen’s usually infallible choice of soundtrack music is heavy-handed”.
Each to their own.