By Halli Burton.
As the saying goes: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
The titular character’s Parisian life is blissful. She has an adoring husband, Francois (Martin Swabey), and together they’re raising their cherubic son, Jules.
And Alice? Portrayed perfectly by the talented doe-eyed Emilie Piponnier, is sweet, timid and trusting. It doesn’t taken long before she gets a painfully rude awakening, when she learns that the charming Francois is a morally corrupt thief and sex addict who has squandered all of their money on call girls.
Cleverly, the film begins in the family kitchen, the heart of the home, with Alice happily baking while Jules pleads for some chocolate. But this seemingly romantic love story swiftly descends into a tale about lies, deceit and a mother’s fight for survival. After her credit card is declined, Alice visits her bank manager who delivers the devastating news that she is penniless. With the threat of her home being repossessed, Francois going AWOL and zero sympathy from her mother (“Maybe he felt something was missing at home”!), Alice resorts to working for Elegant Escorts, the very same agency that was patronised by Francois.
Her first ‘gig’ is cringe-worthy, you can almost feel her discomfort, but it doesn’t take long to realise that Alice has a steely determination to provide for her child by any means necessary. The one good thing to come out of Alice’s new career, well second, given that she does indeed pay off her debts, is that she meets co-worker Lisa (Chloe Boreham), who becomes her only friend.
Just as things start looking up for Alice…
I commend the entire cast for their solid performances and delivery of a strong and thought-provoking script.
Alice is the well-deserving winner of the Narrative Feature Competition at SXSW.
Writer and director Josephine Mackerras’s debut feature film debut is a lesson in inner strength and second chances.
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