Uncovering Curiosities: Josephine Mackerras’ ALICE
Australian writer/director Josephine Mackerras made her directorial debut with the 2019 French-language drama, Alice. It’s a well composed piece which features a great central performance from actress Emilie Piponnier but the overall trajectory of the tale is a little to clean-cut to resonate.
Piponnier is Alice, the young wife and mother who discovers that her wayward husband (Martin Swabey) has blown all of their money on high end escorts. Alone, broke and faced with losing her apartment, Alice turns to prostitution in order to play the bills.
Alice is a good film, but at times it often feels morally reckless. The world of high class Parisian prostitution is presented as a rather safe option for someone who wants to score some quick cash. There’s never really a hint of danger and Mackerras turns Alice’s desperation into a life-affirming positive choice. Everything is very clear cut and easy.
Star Emilie Piponnier anchors Alice with inherent believability and her performance is what makes the film work. She has created a character who feels real, despite the almost fairy tale depiction of what it’s like to become an escort. It’s enough to overcome the film’s shortcomings.
Well made and brilliantly acted, Alice is a good film, but it ultimately removes all danger from the world of prostitution. Josephine Mackerras feature isn’t exactly Pretty Woman, but Alice isn’t too far from that idealist presentation of a very dark and dangerous profession.