Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is a 1974 romantic drama film directed by Martin Scorsese. Starring Ellen Burstyn and Kris Kristofferson, it is about a widow who travels across America with her son to find a better life and fulfill her dream of becoming a singer. Ellen Burstyn plays the titular Alice Hyatt not just on the road for a better life but on a road to self discovery.

In the beginning of the movie I found Alice Hyatt an annoying character. Trying to please an indifferent husband and spoiling her mischievous preteen son Tommy, she was eccentric and very naive. Her life as a housewife was unfulfilling and her mundane life visibly upset her. As she lay crying in bed, in a rare act of sympathy, her husband consoled her. However, the next day her husband dies in an accident devastating Alice but making her realize that she start afresh and fulfill her dream of becoming a singer.

Leaving behind her closest friends, she leaves with son to Phoenix, Arizona and after a tiring and frustrating search, Alice finally finds a job as a singer in a bar. During this time, my dislike for her was diminishing. She was proving herself to be a diligent person, determined to get a job and achieve her dream. While working she meets a charming young man named Ben. At first she turned down his advances because she was 35 and he was 27. Eventually she gives in and they have an affair cut shortly by his sudden wife. Ben beats his wife for interfering causing Alice to move once again with her son.

Based on her relationships, Alice is very unlucky with men. We don’t know the father for Tommy, her husband was uncaring, and Ben was a violent person not to mention married.

She and Tommy arrive in Tuscon, Arizona where she takes a job as a waitress so they could they continue on to their journey. There meets an assortment of people and eventually David, a rancher. He falls for her but due to her past relationships, she didn’t want to jump to another relationship. Because of her time in Tuscon, Alice is changing into a stronger human being and more confident in her abilities.

She does eventually open her heart to him but comes to strife when he wants to discipline her son. Despite his behavior, she loves him unconditionally and I did respect that her son comes first before any man. She decides to move again to continue fulfilling her dream of singing.

It was then did i realize how the title came to be. Alice always moves and uses it as an excuse that she can’t be singer is this town; it is her mechanism to avoid conflict and keep her son safe. But she found a good man in David who even offered to sell his ranch just so they could live together Monterey. She decides to stay, realizing she is finally at a good place in her life with person who respects and loves her and her son.

I liked how the movie focused on the character’s transition. She was a human being who made mistakes but used her mistakes as a way of teaching herself to be a better person for her and her son.

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One Response to Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)

  1. Juan Monroy says:

    Indeed, the depth of the character is what really drives this film, much like she herself is always on the move and hard to pin down.

    Good review.

    What sources did you use?

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