In Losing Alice, Ayelet Zurer plays Alice Ginor, a 48-year-old film director once known for a certain level of edginess. She put her career on the back burner to raise a family, and while she teaches and directs the odd commercial, she is otherwise out of the game. She is not, however, unhappy being married to David (Gal Torren), a still famous actor, best known in his middle-age for what sounds like bland, conservative studio-driven fare.
One day coming home on the train, Alice has a chance encounter with a young screenwriter named Sophie (Lihi Kornowski), who expresses immense admiration for Alice. In the course of their conversation, Sophie tells Alice that she’s sent a script to her husband. Alice doesn’t immediately think much of it. Sophie, however, begins to pepper her compliments to Alice with some negging of her career, leaving Alice flummoxed but intrigued enough by their encounter to seek out the script that Sophie sent her husband.
After tracking it down, Alice becomes consumed by the project, seeing in it an opportunity to resurrect her dormant career. David, likewise, is interested in using the project to jumpstart his reputation for staid performances. Sophie, meanwhile, is such a fan of both Alice and David that she inserts herself into their lives, while Alice’s obsessions with Sophie is reciprocated enough so that she doesn’t blink when Sophie cuts her daughter’s bangs without asking.
Sophie’s script is about a young woman who resorts to murder to continue dating a much older man, and the plot seems to echo some weird relationship dynamics in the real life of Sophie, who is dating an odd bird twice her age. However, all the red flags in the world — including Sophie’s petulant refusal to compromise her script — do not give Alice pause. When the attached director ends his life under mysterious circumstances (another red flag), Alice lobbies for the film in a way that strongly suggests it’s what Sophie wanted the moment she sat across from Alice on that train in the opening moments of the series.
It’s an intriguing premise that almost immediately drew me in, and the promise of it kept me engaged for much longer than what was warranted. Alas, the Israeli series from Sigal Avin stalls almost immediately after the premiere episode and never really finds the next gear. Subsequent episodes cover similar thematic terrain, but the plot itself advances at an excruciatingly slow pace. Flashbacks, flashforwards, and scenes from the film that is eventually made are abstractly intercut into the present timeline to deepen the mystery, but they mostly only serve to confuse or give the illusion of hidden meaning.
It feels like a paint-by-numbers attempt to replicate David Lynch, and the more you scratch at the bewildering surface, the more you realize there’s not much going on underneath. There are dream sequences and there is a little toe-sucking, and there are some half-hearted attempts to play with identity, but Avin never gets weird enough with it to leave an impression, while the story itself is not enough to carry the series on its own. It’s half Hitchcock, and half Lynch, but it never commits to either influence enough to be either interesting or entertaining.
Granted, Lihi Kornowski and especially Ayelet Zurer are excellent in their roles, and they often so transcend the material that it’s easy to forget we’re watching a slow-moving train to nowhere. Losing Alice also does a modest job of emulating the binge-watching formula, but the hooks never sink in. It might have worked effectively as a 3-hour movie, but at 7 hours doled out over eight episodes, Losing Alice dribs and drabs, but mostly drabs.
It’s a rare miss for Apple+, where the first three episodes premiere today, followed by new episodes weekly.
Header Image Source: Apple TV+