What Alice Found

The title What Alice Found is something of a misnomer, because in this film she loses more than she finds. It is one of those coming-of-age stories where the person grows up in a way that most people should not experience. Alice (Emily Grace) is a fairly mundane, normal teenager in every way, which makes her an easy target. She looks and dresses on the plain side. She's doesn't have that much common sense, and isn't book-smart either. The beginning of the film finds her in her beat-up car on her way to Florida to visit a friend in college. Alice really wants to be a marine biologist so she can work with dolphins, but really doesn't think much of the goal after that. She's also running away from something in her home state of New Hampshire, and writer/director A. Dean Bell refrains from saying exactly what until a ways into the film.

Above all, Alice is naive, something that Sandra (Judith Ivey, Mystery, Alaska, The Stand-In) and Bill (Bill Raymond, Autumn in New York, Spring Forward) immediately notice. They point out that Alice has a flat tire and that there are dangerous men that do this to rob women. They offer to drive in front of her until the next stop, and she agrees. Her car breaks down and she cannot find her money, so the only option left is to hitch a ride with the couple, who offer to drive her to Florida. From initial appearances, Sandra and Bill are the perfect couple. They provide the parental guidance that Alice never had. Sandra gives Alice makeup tips, buys her clothes, and restyles her hair. They are nice, wonderful people, and only Alice cannot see that they are too nice.

Soon, she discovers that Sandra is a prostitute. Bill drives her to various truck stops where he sells her services to long haul truckers. The idea horrifies Alice. However, she knows that Bill and Sandra are providing her only transportation. She also begins to notice that Sandra can make a large sum of money. She charges $150 for a half-hour, which is a huge sum for Alice. The lure of easy money is more than enough to offset any issues of morality that Alice may have. She reluctantly joins Sandra as a prostitute.

The acting in What Alice Found is its strong point. Bell's (Backfire!) script provides ample opportunities for Grace and Ivey to shine. Grace is a newcomer to the screen, and her portrait of Alice is heartbreaking. She is just a kid who is still trying to figure out who she is, and over the course of the movie loses everything and becomes another person. The minute that she realizes this is emotionally strong. Ivey's performance is creepy. She is extremely helpful and all smiles, but it's obvious that this is all a facade. Even Alice feels uneasy around her.

What Alice Found was shot in digital, which doesn't really add or detract from the film. What does bog it down is the fact that the film could have the same effect if it were half as long. Bell drags some scenes out longer than they should go, and this slows the dramatic momentum of the narrative. The Alice character also becomes a little annoying. Yes, it is horrible what she has to go through, but she is a little too naive for her own good. She is basically a kid trying to find a new life. The decisions she made before she began her road trip

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 36 minutes, Rated R for strong sexuality, nudity, and language.

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