After the death of her asshole husband, Alice (Ellen Burstyn) moves to Tucson with her bratty son (Alfred Lutter). She tries to get a job as a nightclub singer and eventually winds up working at a greasy spoon. Alice falls in love with one of the customers (Kris Kristofferson) and tries in vain to put her life back together again.
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is pretty much a lot of melodramatic piffle punctuated by some decent performances. Because it’s directed by Martin Scorsese, it at least looks great and features a lot of fancy camerawork. Basically, it feels like an art house version of a Lifetime Movie.
One of my all time favorite TV shows as a kid was Alice. Man, that Flo was funny. I especially liked it when she’d tell the customers to “kiss her grits”. This flick is actually Alice: Year One because it shows how Alice came to work at Mel’s Diner. Except instead of Linda Lavin as Alice, we’ve got the mom from The Exorcist and instead of Polly Holliday as Flo, it’s Laura Dern’s mom. The other big difference is that it’s not very funny and is mostly depressing.
Even more depressing is that they got a great director like Martin Scorsese to direct what is essentially Alice Begins. Why would they waste an amazingly talented director on a movie that’s basically an overlong television pilot? That’s like getting Francis Ford Coppola to direct Chico and the Man: The Early Years, or Clint Eastwood to direct The Ropers: The Quickening.