Links to Full Text  

 The NewYork Times 
 The New York Observer 
 New York Newsday
 Entertainment Today
 E! Online
 The Boston Globe
 Los Angeles Times
 LA Weekly
 San Francisco Chronicle
 Screen International
 Hollywood Reporter
 Reviews Home (quotes pg.)

Reviews - San Francisco Chronicle

Surprising gem turns up on road trip with 'Alice'
December 19, 2003
by Mick LaSalle

What Alice Found: Thriller. Starring Emily Grace, Judith Ivey and Bill Raymond. Directed by A. Dean Bell. (Not rated. 95 minutes. At Bay Area theaters.)

With so many movies coming out this month, "What Alice Found'' is probably not on the must-see list of many filmgoers. Made on a budget of about 8 cents and shot on grainy digital video, it has nothing going for it but a terrific story and an amazing performance by Judith Ivey, who plays an enigmatic Good Samaritan. An enigmatic Good Samaritan? What does that mean? Well, here's the problem: The great virtue of "What Alice Found'' is that it is consistently surprising -- and surprising in different ways. Yet to explain this -- to go into any kind of real detail at all about the film -- would be to give away half the plot, and that will not be done here. So if the following recommendation is a little vague, just know that an explicit recommendation would demolish the experience of the movie. It's about an 18-year-old girl from the wrong side of the tracks in Massachusetts, who loves dolphins, because the one fun thing she ever did in her life is go to SeaWorld. Summer vacation is over, and a friend has already gone off to college in Miami to study marine biology. So Alice (Emily Grace) - - adventurous and unhappy -- decides to go on a road trip. In a beat-up car, she embarks on a thousand-mile journey. Along the way, she meets and is helped out by an older couple, Bill (Bill Raymond) and Sandra (Ivey), and they start traveling together. ... And that's all anybody needs to know. As for the rest, maybe nothing else happens. (This was, after all, a Sundance movie.) Maybe the whole thing is just a meeting of the minds, an exchange between generations, a heartfelt slice of life that leaves everyone better off for the experience. ... Or maybe not. I'm not talking. I will say that Ivey is fascinating, cooing nonstop in a cozy Southern accent, friendly and accepting, but also observant and oddly unknowable. It's a performance that even gets better on second viewing. As for newcomer Grace, she is all she needs to be as Alice, a gawky kid, wary but gullible, and always a little bit angry about something. She doesn't know why she's angry, only that she has a right to be. -- Advisory: This film contains strong language, sexual situations and full frontal nudity.

Best Sundance Surprise: "What Alice Found."
Mick LaSalle, Chronicle Movie Critic

Writer-director A. Dean Bell's low- budget film, shot on HDCam, concerned a teenage girl (Emily Grace) who takes off on a road trip and is befriended by a retired couple. What I love about this movie is the way the plot moves slowly into completely unexpected areas, so that even an hour into the film, you have no idea what's really going on. It's a masterfully paced little story, and I hope it finds its way into theaters.