Let me start with a disclaimer because I feel bad. The star of The Death Of Alice Blue was at Dead By Dawn 2011 and was, as is often the case with people traveling to support a labour of love, absolutely lovely. As an actress she was also very good. But the movie, I’m afraid, was the worst thing that I saw during this festival. And now the review . . . . .
Written and directed by the strangely-monikered Park Bench, The Death Of Alice Blue is a movie so desperate to be quirky and leftfield that it forgets to maintain any decent story strand or enjoyable movie sequences. It’s random for the sake of being random and just fails to engage the audience thanks to it’s constant “look at this film, isn’t it amusingly quirky and unique” attitude.
Alex Appel (the best thing about the movie) stars as Alice, a junior copywriter at Raven Advertising and someone viewed in various ways by those around her. Peter and his cohorts seem to want her help in somehow bringing down the system, her main bosses seem to alternately praise and berate her and there are two women who just keep popping up to make bitchy comments and roll their eyes. Work may be grim but home provides no respite either, Alice’s mother isn’t the most encouraging woman and Alice seems happiest listening to music in her bedroom with her cat on her lap.
To say anything more would possibly spoil the film for anyone interested in it and also be quite pointless – there IS a storyline that eventually peeks through but it’s something that could have made for a decent 10 minute short as opposed to this rambling nonsense.
Imagine The Matrix crossed with some Kafka-esque office drama and then remove anything that may appear to be engaging, insightful or just simply entertaining and you have this over-indulgent mess.
If there had even been just a few more separate, disparate good moments (there are one or two onscreen, however brief) then I would have been tempted to deliver this review from a point of cruel kindness. But there isn’t, which means that I want to just rant and rave against the thing, perhaps a bit too harshly.
The few good points? Alex Appel is quite good in the lead role and Park Bench does better cutting a quirky, twitchy figure onscreen than he does behind the cameras. There’s also a half-decent soundtrack and a few minor laughs.
The bad, though, is far too overwhelming to list here in explicit detail. None of the other cast members do all that well. They’re not spectacularly bad (we’re not talking Troma-time here) but they don’t bring anything to add to the material and the material desperately needs something to elevate it, even by a small amount. Kristen Holden-Ried, Barbara Radecki, Gordon Currie, Conrad Coates, Megan Fahlenbock, Veronica Hurnick and Carolyn Dunn may deserve better, only time will tell.
Vague and random moments are put together with no thought to holding the audience’s interest or even bringing things to a satisfying conclusion. Ambiguity and surrealism don’t equate to intelligent fare all on their own, they need to have some substance backing them up, the movie has to do something to earn and reward the trust of the viewer and it just doesn’t do that.
DIRECTOR: PARK BENCH
STARS: ALEX APPEL, PARK BENCH, KRISTEN HOLDEN-RIED, GORDON CURRIE, BARBARA RADECKI
RUNTIME: 87 MINS APPROX