What Alice Found Movie Review
If her thievery doesn't endear her to us, a couple of redneck dudes who make tasteless gestures at her out on the highway causes us to be concerned about her safety. Some miles further down the road, she parks at a rest stop for snacks and a phone call to her friend. She pulls a few bills out of her money envelope and returns it to its hiding place under the front seat. When she returns to her car, a woman comes up to her and tells her of a man who looked inside her car and took off.
This samaritan turns out to be middle-aged Sandra (Judith Ivey) who is on the road with her friend Bill (Bill Raymond) in their RV. When they discover that a tire is flat on Alice's car, Sandra calls on Bill to mount the spare. Sandra then suggests that Alice follow them for a few miles, just for safety. Alice agrees, but breaks down en route. Pulling off onto the shoulder, it's not too long before a guy appears, wanting to help. But her guardian couple have doubled back and, brandishing a pistol in his belt, ex-marine Bill convinces the guy to take off.
Alice agrees to abandon her car and join the couple in their RV, but not before Bill has removed her license plate so the car may not be traced. Gathering her gear, Alice finds her money envelope gone from its hiding place. By this time, our concern for her is complete and we're relieved at the more protective situation that she's found.
The next morning, after a comfortable sleep in the cushy home on wheels and a good breakfast, Sandra starts doting on her as though she were a long lost daughter. She takes Alice shopping for a new outfit and promises to take her all the way to her Florida destination, as well, but with a few stops along the way. But when she observes Sandra and Bill picking up a strange guy in a bar at a truck stop, taking him into the RV's bedroom, and hears what's going on behind the closed door, she finally understands what this nice couple is up to. When she learns how much money can be made, Alice becomes eager to turn a few tricks of her own.
All of this leads to Alice understanding what parents are all about, part of a personal transformation arising out of bad choices. Her emerging discovery of who she is and what values she wants to pursue... is what Alice found.
Emily Grace, in her first feature, is nothing if not convincing. Without a shred of star power or Hollywood affectation, with a New Hampshire accent as thick as ice, she takes us through a carefully woven process of breaking down taboos and reaching a very different goal than the one she started with. Screen veteran and two-time Tony winner Ivey gives her road trollop a talky flamboyance with a smooth line and a subtle agenda. Raymond joins the ladies as a congenial, undemanding, but sometimes flinty partner in an easygoing enterprise that pays the gas bills and tax-free lifestyle. He's laid back and tastefully supportive. It's almost too harsh to call him the pimp of the operation.
Alice found money, a new trade, and herself. She's an emerging talent worth watching and a storyteller of original and solid instincts. What I didn't find in this moving "Best Little Whorehouse on the Highway" was any sign of Dolly Parton, nor much sordidness in the way the suggestive subject is treated. This film opens up new territory for the road movie with an engrossing and original take on the prospects of mobility. A. Dean Bell, working with limited funding and considerable talent, gives Hollywood a lesson on how a life-changing story arc makes a character-based drama work so well.
She needs to find some waterproof mascara.
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