Alice's House is an utterly average foreign art-house film, with all the strengths and flaws that label implies. Director Chico Teixeira cut his teeth as a documentarian, and a nonfiction impulse dominates the camerawork, which lingers over both moments of interest and moments of tedium. At its most striking, the movie provides a rare glimpse into the Brazilian middle class. Alice's family isn't stinking rich or squalidly poor; they're just getting by. There's her taxi-driver husband (Zecarlos Machado), an archetype of male sloth and entitlement; her angelic mother (Berta Zemel); and her three preternaturally attractive sons, sneaker-obsessed and sex-mad. there's Alice, played by the astonishing newcomer Carla Ribas. A manicurist who fusses over her clients' ragged cuticles as her own life unravels, Alice is deeply unhappy, seemingly to her own surprise. characters dance around each other for 90 minutes, never quite finding the strength to say what's on their minds; the dialogue is entrancingly elliptical, but ultimately shallow.
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