A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Woody Allen's "Alice" snatches its heroine out of the cradle of luxury and takes her on a dizzying tour of the truths in her life, fueled by the mysterious herbal teas of an enigmatic acupuncturist.
It's a strange, magical film, in which Allen uses the arts of the ancient Chinese healer as a shortcut to psychoanalysis; at the end of the film, which covers only a few days, Alice has learned truths about her husband, her parents, her marriage, her family and herself, and has undergone a profound conversion in values. Because this is a Woody Allen film, a lot of that metaphysical process is very funny.
Mia Farrow stars as Alice, who has no apparent relationship to Alice in Wonderland but finds her own looking-glass in the dingy walk-up offices of the highly recommended Dr. Yang in New York's Chinatown. He asks her to gaze into a spinning wheel while he hypnotizes her, and then he discovers, as he suspected all along, that her pains are not in her back, as she claims, but in her heart.
She leads a comfortable life, cut off from all sources of suffering and therefore also of joy. She and her husband (William Hurt) live in a Manhattan apartment that has been interior-designed to within an inch of its life. Also occupying their home, in supporting roles, are a cook ("I couldn't get free-range chickens today!"), a nanny, and of course their small assortment of two children. It's the kind of house where support personnel are constantly ringing the doorbell: Here comes the trainer now.