ALICE'S HOUSE (A Casa De Alice)- Brazil

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Director Chico Teixeira departs from his documentary work to give us his first feature presentation. The film takes us into the working class household of Alice, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Emotionally charged and with enough secret affairs, deception and dysfunction to whet any telenovela’s whistle, “Alice’s House” moves us with the sheer rawness of its characters.

The story, richly woven with dynamic characters which draw you into their convoluted yet colorful lives, as we are introduced quickly and made part of their family. Alice is wonderfully portrayed by Carla Ribas in the lead. Alice is a lonely manicurist at a local beauty parlor who seeks true happiness in her life in the face of the mundane which she presently exists in.

Surrounding her in their small apartment, are her three teenage boys- (Junior (Felipe Massuia), Lucas (Vinicius Zinn), and Edinho (Ricardo Vilaca). Each is devoid of being just a backdrop, but instead are 3 equally in depth characterizations with big hearts and big problems. Alice’s man of two decades is, Lindomar (Zecarlos Machado) who drives a taxi and is drawn lustfully to teenage girls.

The tacitness of grandma Dona Jacira (Berta Zemel) as the inveterate homemaker: washing clothes, ironing etc all without fail. Despite her seemingly uncaring attitude within the film and her propensity to do the household’s chores; she notices everything going on around her, despite her near blindness. She knows everyone’s dark machinations.

The setup of the film moves quite slowly, but that doesn’t detract from necessary information we are told about each family member. Despite a slow moving start, it eventually fades into a captivating storyline which envelops the viewer till the very end.

Emotions are high when both Alice and Lindomar become entangled in affairs- with Alice, it’s ex-flame, now hitched Nilson (Luciano Quirino) who ignites the fire back into her libido which desired rekindling. We discover that Nilson is married to one of her sensually enticing customers named, Carmen (Renata Zhaneta.). We follow the family through all of its ups and downs, all the while experiencing a multitude of passions.

The warmth of the characters of “Alice’s House” is first and foremost here. All conceptual elements of sexual relations, passion and romantic tensions are all dealt with subtly without it being “in your face”. The impact on screen is powerful nonetheless. “Alice’s House” is a must see.

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Weak: 1 Star   Average: 2 Stars   Good: 3 Stars   Very Good: 4 Stars   Excellent: 5 Stars

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Tobe R. Roberts

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