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What Alice Found follows a troubled young woman, Alice (first-time actor Emily Grace) on a circuitous and treacherous journey south towards Miami. Leaving behind a life marked by the drudgery of a dead-end job, aimless friends, and a marginal existence, it would seem that any change would improve Alice’s lot. In many road films, the open road represents freedom, opportunity, and new beginnings. In D.Alan Bell’s directorial/writing debut, Alice is dutifully presented with all of the aforementioned. However, what Alice also finds is that freedom, opportunity, and new beginnings often come with strings attached.

Alice's beat up Ford Escort is littered with fast food wrappers and garbage, and it’s apparent this is no mere joyride for her. En route to visit (read: crash) with her best friend Julie, there is an air of desperation surrounding Alice. Various images of her daily existence elucidate the source of this desperate need for escape. The trajectory of Alice’s odyssey changes dramatically upon stopping at a rest area along the way. A punctured tire acts as a catalyst for two good Samaritans, Sandra (Judy Ivey, Mystery, Alaska) and Bill (Bill Raymond, Autumn in New York) to offer their help to Alice. Alice manages to get a few more miles out of her rapidly declining jalopy before she has little choice but to join Sandra and Bill in their RV as they head towards Miami. Along the way, Alice discovers that Sandra and Bill finance their travels via a most provocative means.

Alice’s existence prior to hitting the road is unpleasant, but not exactly life threatening. This becomes a problem later in the film (order the film essay from service) when Alice is confronted with a difficult choice. The path she chooses compromises what little ethics, morals, and principles Alice has. This was not believable given the fact that Alice’s existence seemed little more than dreary. If it was evident that Alice was facing a truly desperate situation, her decision would have been easier to accept and understand.

As noted above,What Alice Found is Emily Grace’s film debut and unfortunately, it shows. Grace’s inexperience shows most noticeably when she tries to employ a New Jersey accent. It’s not a particularly good accent to begin with and Grace can’t seem to employ it with any semblance of consistency. The accent is completely absent in the first few minutes. Out of nowhere the accent emerges and just as suddenly disappears again. This becomes quite frustrating and distracting. The accent doesn’t add anything to Alice’s character development and serves to distract more than anything else. On the plus side, Judy Ivey does a wonderful job as the matriarch of this pseudo-family, Sandra. Sandra is an identifiable character who clearly has suffered loss and pain that far surpasses anything Alice has endured. Sandra’s existence is hardly a step above Alice’s. Towards the end of the film, I found myself becoming more sympathetic towards Sandra than the wayward Alice.

I feeling pretty empty after watching What Alice Found. Bell fails to create a sympathetic character in Alice. Additionally, the majority of the film takes place inside the cramped interior of Sandra and Bill’s RV. This decision poses certain creative constraints that ultimately become detrimental. As a viewer, you begin to feel trapped and claustrophobic. The one aspect of this film that I did find intriguing was the exploration of the subculture surrounding people who drive around the country in recreational vehicles. Bell constructs a fairly believable portrait of this semi-nomadic lifestyle. It is a world that seems transitory and masked in anonymity. Unfortunately, the novelty of exploring this subculture is not enough to redeem a film that fails to deliver in a number of significant ways. What Alice Found was more than she bargained for, but in the end, who cares?

  • Stuart Baket
  • Mar 26 2020
  • Pending Review
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