- Golden Globe Awards
Alice (France, Australia)
When we first meet the title character in the French drama Alice, our protagonist’s domestic life appears blissful. Alice (Emilie Piponnier) is delectably cooking with her young son when her dutiful husband François (Benjamin Bourgois) comes home from work and gives off the appearance of a doting father and adoring husband. But cracks soon appear when at a dinner party, François, a struggling writer, bristles as his fragile ego is played with. The next day, the familial bliss we had presumed implodes as Alice discovers her husband has vanished with all the money her father had bequeathed to her to raise their son. Trying to find answers, she meets with her bank loan officer – only to discover a financial ticking clock as her apartment is about to be confiscated for lack of payments.
Shellshocked at this deception, Alice slowly begins her own search for answers and uncovers that her spouse was frequenting an escort service. In a move that might shock and confuse, she maneuvers herself into an open call for the agency; at first to seek answers and then in a turn of events, takes a job as her only means to help pay off the imminent loan payment and support her son. While this radical turn of events might surprise feminists and puritans alike, it serves as testament to one woman’s struggle against her oppression.
Under the tutelage of Australian director Josephine Mackerras, Alice is a film that challenges the norms of sexuality, female empowerment and even prostitution. While movies have historically showcased sex workers as either unappreciated women with a heart of gold or cold-hearted manipulators, Mackerras set out to explore the double standard towards sex and what it says about us as a society. In an age when we are supposed to be liberated, what are the blind spots we don’t see?
The film’s genesis could almost be a movie in its own right. Mackerras was in London studying at Raindance when she went to Paris for a film. That project collapsed and she found herself pregnant. She began to write the framework for Alice. Making the movie on a shoestring budget, the shoot took over 18 months to complete due to financing and talent schedules. Filming primarily took place in her own apartment and in her most personal gesture she cast her 3 year-old son Jules as the couple’s precocious child Jules as well.