by David C. Terr
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Director: Woody Allen,
Starring: Mia Farrow, Joe Mantagna, William Hurt, Key Luke
Release Date: Dec. 25, 1990 (USA)
Running Time: 102 min
Genres: Romance, Drama, Fantasy, Comedy
Alice is a very thought-provoking film starring Mia Farrow and written and directed by Woody Allen. Like most of his later films, it's more serious than funny, but it's still great. The story, which is sort of a modern day fairy tale, is quite entertaining. Mia delivers a terrific performance as Alice, an unhappy rich housewife who consults a Chinese herbalist for advice as well as some highly non-conventional treatments. Key Luke also delivers a good performance as her herbalist, as does Joe Mantegna, her love interest.
Alice Tate (Farrow) is a rather unhappy rich housewife living in New York City. She decides to see an herbalist for some back problems, but the herbalist Dr. Yang (Luke) tells her the problem is in her head. He gives her several magical herbs to help her deal with her problems. The first herb makes her talk seductively to Joe (Mantegna), a man she's interested in but otherwise too shy to approach. The second herb makes her invisible, so that she can watch people in her lives without being noticed. Other herbs help her in other ways. Through her use of these mysterious herbs, she learns much better who she is and what she wants from life. She ends up leaving her husband, traveling to India and visiting Mother Theresa.
Although Alice is sort of a fairy tale, I think there's a lot of truth to it wrapped up in magical symbolism. Alice represents a lot of people who are well-off but otherwise unhappy with their lives because they need a sense of direction. Alice is given this sense through the use of magical herbs. In reality, we can develop this sense by taking the time to look into ourselves as well as those around us.