3 April 2017



It would be easy, really, really easy, to hate Alice Tate, the subject of Woody Allen's whimsical romantic comedy that has elements of the contemporary fairytale about it. I mean, she has everything. Everything a modern woman could possibly desire and then some.

It's gonna require a whole paragraph all to itself, in fact, to tell you about how lucky Alice is, so come with me quickly now to the next one. Careful, though. That's a busy intersection we're crossing...

Are we all safely across? Great. Okay, so Alice (played by Mia Farrow) is in her thirties or thereabouts. That's not why she's lucky but, yeah, it would be really sweet to be thirty again...! She's married to successful, handsome businessman Douglas Tate, who's played by the successful, handsome actor William Hurt. (I have a MAJOR crush on this guy.)

They have two adorable children together, plus a live-in nanny-cum-babysitter, and they live in a fabulous New York apartment so big that it looks like they have an entire flippin' hotel floor to themselves. Jealous much...? Yeah, I'm dying of jealousy, haha.

Alice spends her days shopping in all the finest stores and lunching in all the finest restaurants with her equally rich gal-pals. They swap the bitchiest of gossip over manicures and facials at the beauty parlour and when they do condescend to pick up their own kids from school, instead of just sending the nanny along with the chauffeur, it's a competition to see who's wearing the most opulent fur coat.

Speaking of clothes, Alice wears pearls and cashmere sweaters with her designer jeans and Alice bands (Coincidence? Maybe...!) around the house and her apartment looks like something out of a magazine. A magazine like HOMES AND GARDENS, obviously, or BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS, not JUGS AND AMMO. Not that kind of magazine.

So, have I managed to convince you all exactly how lucky Alice Tate is? What, you guys noticed the cracks showing too? Well spotted. Let's huddle and discuss 'em quietly. We don't want her to hear us...

Alice and Doug's marriage has lost its shine. Sheen. Whatever you want to call it. They're perfectly pleasant and civil with each other but there's no passion there either. They've stopped sleeping with each other. And where exactly does Doug go on his so-called 'backgammon nights?'

Well, probably he is playing backgammon most of the time because you know what guys are like about their precious games, but some nights we know he's not playing backgammon. Or working late...

It's not just Alice's marriage that's lost its gloss. She hardly knows her own kids because the nanny does everything that needs doing. She's estranged from her older sister Dorothy, played by Gwyneth Paltrow's Mum Blythe Danner. Alice's friends aren't even really her friends.

They trash her character behind her back and slag her off something fierce for her shy, quiet mousy demeanour. With bitchy, treacherous friends like this, she seriously doesn't need enemies. Poor neurotic Alice. Actually, she's Woody Allen-level neurotic which, as you know, is pretty damn neurotic indeed, haha.

Alice's eyes are opened and her life is changed beyond recognition when two particular things happen. Firstly and, perhaps, most importantly, she meets a handsome, dark-haired saxophone player called Joe on the school run. Secondly, a Chinese doctor she's attending for back spasms gives her some mind-bending, mind-opening drugs that make her look at her life in a different way.

Alice finally starts to ask herself some hard questions. Is being Doug's rich, perfect wife all that she's ever wanted from her life, or has she ever wanted more? To write, for example? Doug has never really supported Alice's plans to do things that don't involve being a good wife and mother.

And is she satisfied with the cool, polite and passionless marriage she has with Doug these days? Is it enough for her, or is Alice actually capable of a real and lasting passion? And why does she tolerate the empty so-called 'friendships' with the other Ladies Who Lunch when she could conceivably be out there making some meaningful connections with people who like her for herself? 

When the scales finally fall from Alice's eyes, let's just say that there are gonna be a few changes around the Tate household...

Joe the saxophonist is ably played by Joe Mantegna, the actor who's possibly best-known for his role as mobster Anthony 'Fat Tony' D'Amico from THE SIMPSONS. (He doesn't get mad, he gets stabby...!) His co-worker on THE SIMPSONS, Julie Kavner who plays Marge Simpson and both her twin sisters Patty and Selma Bouvier, has a cameo role in the film.

There's a brilliant episode of THE SIMPSONS where the much-married, chain-smoking and MACGYVER-loving Selma ends up 'marrying' Fat Tony after it turns out that he likes her blunt speaking, only to discover that she's in fact only his 'goomar' after all.

Mrs. 'Fat Tony' D'Amico, to a horrified Selma, holding up enormous diamond on her finger, comparing it to Selma's smaller one:

'That's a goomar ring, THIS is a wife ring...!'

Alec Baldwin, who's also starred in THE SIMPSONS as Himself, plays a blinder here as the ghost of Alice's deceased former boyfriend Eddie, the kind of guy who rides a motorcycle, has great hair and takes your virginity in the back of his Dad's truck. Well, I guess you can't take someone's virginity on the back of a motorcycle, heh-heh-heh.

Cybill Shepherd is 'moonlighting' (see what I did there?) here as a power-suited, ball-breaking career woman who doesn't need Alice any more, not now she's a big shot in the world of television. We've all probably known people like that. It hurts, but only as much as we let it. There you go, have some home-spun wisdom for free from your Auntie Sandra.

The story is told through flash-backs intermingled with the bits that are 'happening now,' as it were, and Woody Allen uses his directorial powers to play about with the surreal and even with the slightly unbelievable, something he normally does anyway. Oh, and Mother Teresa puts in an appearance too but I don't know whether she ever knew about it, haha.

The scene with the misused love potion is very funny, and those 'invisibility drugs' that Dr. Yang gives Alice would sure come in handy when I'm stalking my ex round at his place, I mean, um, when I'm taking a sisterly interest in an old flame. Yikes, good save...

This gorgeously whimsical and wonderful romantic comedy is out on special release at the moment, along with two other excellent Woody Allen movies, CRIMES AND MISDEMEANOURS and SHADOWS AND FOG. This all comes courtesy of the lovely hard-working people at ARROW ACADEMY.

ARROW FILMS are doing a brilliant special season of seven Woody Allen releases at the moment, which should delight all the many fans of the iconic director's work. The films were all made between 1986 and 1991. I'll include a list of the films and their release dates below so that you guys can keep tabs on what's coming out when:

RADIO DAYS (1987) - 20TH FEBRUARY, 2017.
SEPTEMBER (1987) - 6TH MARCH, 2017.
ANOTHER WOMAN (1988) - 6TH MARCH, 2017.
ALICE (1990) - 3RD APRIL, 2017.
SHADOWS AND FOG (1991) - 3RD APRIL, 2017.

Don't ever let it be said that I don't love ye...!


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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