Alice’s House still 20080116Saudações, caros leitores.

That’s Portuguese for “Greetings, dear readers” (well, or so Google tells me). That’s probably what I would say to you if I were writing for And were I writing for, I’d probably know firsthand of the hardships of people like Alice Jacira (played marvelously by Carla Ribas). As it stands, I write from the comfort of my apartment in Hollywood, so the closest I can get to that is the new film “Alice’s House.”

I’ll be perfectly frank: after reading the synopsis, I was far from convinced I’d end up going to see this. Truth be told, were it not for my girlfriend, I certainly would not have. In fact, I walked in exhausted and annoyed, expecting to fall asleep within the first 15 minutes. And that would have been a real shame, because I would have missed out on a poignant, complex and powerful slice-of-life film.

The story is very simple: it follows the life of Alice and the emotional turmoil of her family – her husband Lindomar, her three boys Lucas, Edhino and Junior, and her ailing mother Dona. I really don’t want to spoil anything for you, so I’ll purposefully avoid touching on the plot, or the characters; although I’ll tell you that this is not a plot-driven movie, this is a character study. And an expertly-executed one at that.

Chico Teixeira and Carla Ribas 20080116While this might be the first feature of the film’s director, Chico Teixeira, his experience in the documentary field is certainly visible: It feels real. Everything about it is so genuine, it might as well have been. While I tend to get bored with character studies, the lack of linear plot didn’t bother me in the least.

That could just as easily be attributed to the film’s star. Carla Ribas started acting at 35, but that certainly hasn’t worked against her in any way. As I mentioned, this is as real as any story you’ll ever see. It’s the thousand daily horrors we face, the injustices and injuries every person will experience at some point in their life. And she is the force that drives the whole film.

This is not a happy film, but it’s not bleak, either. While it thankfully steers clear of the Hollywood ending, it also doesn’t leave you on the brink of despair (House of Sand and Fog anyone?).

I would encourage you all to go and see this when it opens on the 25th at the Nuart (where else?). This film (and it’s star) has been garnering tons of praise and awards worldwide, and I can only add to the acclaim by saying it’s all justified.

Oh, and on a side, note, the Brazilian snacks served after the film reminded me how much I *love* their food as a whole, but more specifically pão de queijo, those little cheese puff balls… Man those things rock.