Cast: Carla Ribas, Berta Zemel, Vinicius Zinn, Ricardo Vilaca, Felipe Massuia, ZÈ Carlos Machado
Director: Chico Teixeria
Release Date: June 23, 2009
Rating: Not Rated for (adult situations)
Run Time: 01h:32m:15s
ìThere are too many men in this house. Thereís nothing but complaints.î - Alice (Carla Ribas)
I'm a sucker for internationally acclaimed, award-winning films, and, of course, having "One of the year's 10 best!" quoted on the cover doesn't hurt either.
Movie Grade: A
DVD Grade: B
Too many films these days rely on huge, bombastic explosions, and spoon-fed exposition to get their
ìmessagesî across. Multiplexes are consistently overridden with CGI-laden spectacles that are more concerned
with pushing an audienceís headache threshold then making their brains work a little harder than normal for a
couple of hours. As a result, small, foreign gems like director Chico Teixeiraís 2007 effort Aliceís House are never
even slightly considered for a wide theatrical release outside of their native countries, and, if theyíre lucky, will be
exposed to a few U.S. critics via film festivals or small screenings in New York and L.A.
Alice (Carla Ribas) is a working-class woman living in Sao Paolo, Brazil whose life consists almost entirely of men.
These men live with Alice, and include her cab-driving husband, Lindomar (ZÈ Carlos Machado), and her sons,
Lucas (Vinicius Zinn), Edinho (Ricardo Vilaca), and Junior (Felipe Massuia). The only fellow female in Aliceís life is
her mother, Dona Jacira (Berta Zemel), a tough old woman who knows exactly whatís going on all around her
without letting on that she does. Alice has a difficult-enough time caring for everyone in her life and making ends
meet, but when suspicions become more and more serious regarding her philandering husband, she has to take
measures to ensure that her house remains in order.
A Hollywood story with a similar scenario for its protagonist would probably wind up being a feel-good tale of said
protagonist emerging from her funk and becoming a strong, confident woman who becomes truly happy, with
laughs-a-plenty along the way. Fortunately, Teixeira stays true to his vision and crafts a truly original story full of
realism and nothing that comes close to being fabricated nonsense. His film is full of subtle twists and turns that
not only leaves us engaged in every characterís life throughout, but, most importantly, leaves us reflecting on what
weíve seen long after the film is over.
Carla Ribasí performance as the title character is nothing short of revelatory. She embodies the title character in a
way that is both warm and, at times, heart-wrenching. While we may not be able to relate to Aliceís struggles, Ribas
ensures that this character is portrayed as someone whom we easily could meet at some point during our life. Ribas
brings plenty of toughness to a role that didnít exactly need it to succeed, but, in hindsight, without it wouldnít have
been as compelling. To top it all off, she also shows us what is quite possibly the most ingenious way to break up a
fight between people that she doesnít even come close to matching up with size-wise. This scene is the epitome of
David Vs. Goliath, or in this case, Goliaths.
There isnít a single music cue in the film, and this only adds to the intimate feeling we get, practically living inside
the house along with Alice and her family. This only goes to prove that subtlety can be far more effective than
ridiculous bombast, as the silence here allows us to become totally immersed in what Teixeiraís characters and the
rich, layered story being told. Perhaps this is Teixeiraís documentary filmmaking background seeping through to
this, his feature film debut, but regardless, hereís hoping he doesnít change styles for future film projects, as Aliceís
House was a dreary, yet extremely fulfilling place to visit.
Posted by: Chuck Aliaga - March 15, 2010, 7:14 pm - DVD Review
Keywords: sao paulo, family, relationships