Crime thriller, Alice, explores history like never before

Radhika Desai, News Editor

On March 18, Vertical Entertainment and Roadside Attractions released the new movie Alice. This film takes on the narrative of an enslaved woman, Alice played by actress Keke Palmer, who escapes her life in a pre-Civil War south only to find out she’s actually living in 1973. Although the topic of the movie can be quite shocking, the performance and strong concept overshadows the fierce criticism. 

The story begins with Alice living on a plantation in Antebellum Georgia with her husband Joseph, enslaved by a vile man named Paul Bennett. After Joseph tries to escape and is killed by Paul, Alice decides to run away as well and is successful until she stumbles out of the thick woods and comes across a busy highway. Having lived in an environment like the 1800s, Alice looks around confused standing in the middle of the road looking at the vehicles, until a man named Frank nearly hits her with his truck. Frank, portrayed by Common who is one of the executive producers along with Palmer, picks up Alice and reveals to her the real year she’s living in.

After some adjustment to real life and bonding with Frank, where he empowers her with her civil rights history and modern day advancements, Alice decides she wants to go back to the plantation and confront Paul. Despite being against the risky choice at the start, Frank finally comes along to carry out her vengeance. 

“I want to talk about [history] in a way that I feel about it, which is, I have so much pride and resilience because of where I came from, being a black American. I just felt like when I read the script [for Alice], it was an opportunity to be a part of this narrative in the way that I feel is more fitting and representative of black people today and black people of the past,” Palmer said. 

Alice can be heavy for some but the depiction of an enslaved narrative is incredibly important to listen to. Especially since the movie tries to break away from the typical perspectives of slavery shown in Hollywood. The movie is loosely based on the story of Mae Louise Walls Miller, who escaped her own bondage in 1963. When seeing the trailer, there are many recognizable elements to M. Night Shamalyan’s 2004 film The Village or Jack Hill’s Coffy from 1973. The concept of seeing someone you love get hurt and getting revenge has been done many times and the actors use them to draw inspiration for this film.

“It’s not the same style of film…It’s like if a Black exploitation film was rooted in something very grounded. I took the feeling and the emotion that not only Pam Grier displayed in her movies, such as Coffy, but also the inspiration of how that made Black people feel at that time, in that era and what they were experiencing,” Palmer said.

Overall, the movie isn’t perfect just like anything else, but the intriguing premise and inspiration from true events make up for the few shortcomings. Not only does the film highlight racial struggle but also women’s empowerment which there is certainly not enough of in the industry. Alice is now purchasable on platforms like iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play.