Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore ★★★★

Disillusionment In Sun-Drenched 1970s American New Wave Cinema: A Watching Brief

The Irishman was, of course, a truly great achievement and film, but I still think I prefer lower budget and lower profile Martin Scorsese films.

And certainly those which have a more comedic element to them. It's an opinion only strengthened by Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, a film that would quickly become overshadowed by Scorsese's move into more crime-oriented stories.

I felt the ending didn't work (although it may have worked better back in 1974) as I would make the point that Kris Kristofferson was somewhat of a shit too, although the best of a bad bunch of men in Ellen Burstyn's life. I also don't think the front-and-centre narrative is as interesting as some of the stuff going in the background here.

Burstyn's clear portrayal of someone who just happens to be a very nice person indeed isn't pushed in our faces but provides some subtle grounding as to why we would root for her. Or at least an additional reason to do so. Also, her various friendships are really nicely done and I especially liked the way her relationship with hilariously mouthy waitress Diane Ladd develops.

Some of the character work here is really fantastic. Ladd not being too put out by Burstyn's coldness towards her is one thing, but Harvey Keitel's initially charming but latterly abusive bullet-filler is also particularly well done. It's a film that's about character, not necessarily characters, and while the narrative is nothing groundbreaking, Scorsese does some of his very best work with the lead and support cast here.

The kid's right, too. Kristofferson's taste in music does suck.

Steve G liked this review