Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ellen Burstyn in "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore"

Ellen Burstyn won the Oscar for playing Alice Hyatt in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore.

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore is one of my favorite films, mostly because it crams so much into two hours and it never feels deliberately long or unnecessary. I am a sucker for films about women suddenly being liberated, and Alice fits that description like a glove. Scorsese puts so much into the film, and it might not be one of his most celebrated works, but it easily shows how he is one of the best directors of all time: because he knows how to make intelligent, GOOD, entertaining movies. It follows Alice: a widowed housewife who sets out to her hometown of Monterey, California. Along the way, she finds romance, motherly problems, and the painful realism of a working woman.

Ellen Burstyn plays Alice, the essential female character. Alice is everything you would expect: funny, romantic, sad, bitter, dreamy, and oddly charming. Burstyn, an actress whose method training and realistic playing makes her one of my favorite actresses, is captivating from the moment she appears on screen. Playing it to every hilt, she is fantastic at showing all the things Alice is thinking, from her husband's attention to her son's disrespect, but unrequited love for her. When Alice cries, it's almost like Burstyn is telling us that real women can't face it all.

This role screams feminist perhaps more loudly then any other performance at the time. A sad woman who must rediscover her life after her husband dies, following her dream of singing, only ending up a waitress. Burstyn is amazing at showing how Alice never really changes herself, yet adapts to the situations around her. It's a wonderful, sweet performance that I could watch over and over again & still be surprised how much the impact of freshness the performance still holds.


dinasztie said...

I love her. I totally agree. I'm so often tempted to make her my pick after all... Gosh, she's brilliant as always.

hey deanie said...

This is truly one of my favorite films as well. Great performance.

Fritz said...

I'm not a fan, but you know that already. :-)