SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the first three episodes of “Losing Alice,” streaming now on Apple TV Plus.
At the start of Sigal Avin’s “Losing Alice,” the titular character, a successful filmmaker who has taken some time away from her work to raise a family, becomes engaged in conversation with an up-and-coming writer named Sophie (Lihi Kornowski). Sophie recognizes Alice as she sits across from her on a train and uses the seemingly chance encounter to tell her what a fan she is by pointing out Alice’s decade-old famous film was formative for her.
“It’s like saying, ‘That thing that you’ve done many, many, many years ago was so great [but] what are you doing now?’ It immediately raises the feeling that right now you’re nothing — right now you’re in the swamp of artistic death. She gives her a compliment, but also destroys her,” Ayelet Zurer, who stars in the eight-episode series as Alice, tells Variety.
For many people, that brief exchange would put them off wanting to engage with the person again. But Alice is intrigued enough to offer Sophie assistance on the train and to tell her husband David (Gal Toren) about meeting her, since Sophie said she had sent him her script. Eventually, Alice finds herself drawn to Sophie — and her work — enough to agree to direct her film, after the original director mysteriously disappears.
“Alice, in my perspective, is a woman in deep stagnation,” Zurer says of her character at the start of the show. “For me, what I really, really liked about it is there’s such a complex relationship between women. There’s an attraction, a sense of wanting to be fed by someone. It’s almost like, metaphorically, an animal feeding off another animal. Artistically she’s young and Alice is in such a place that Sophie brings the structure of youth and freedom.”
To a degree, Alice sees her younger sense in Sophie, especially when it comes to her artistic drive. Zurer considers the relationship between the three characters of Alice, Sophie and David as getting caught up in “a passion triangle of success and maybe self-fulfillment” when they work together, each willing to go extremely far to get what they want.
Alice’s journey, though, is the most complex of the three. Alice “hasn’t been able to have a sense of self-fulfillment other than being a mother and a wife, for quite some time,” Zurer notes. “That’s really where the story begins and the exploration is about, what do you do when you realize that is where you are and what is the process of awakening and what is the price you have to pay for the awakening and also the ability to do what you want to do?”
In her portrayal of Alice sitting back down in a director’s chair for the first time in years on-screen, Zurer wanted to make sure there was a clear difference from scenes where Alice was at home with her family. That came, in part, with help from the wardrobe department — the “work uniform of a film director” of jeans and a jacket, as Zurer puts it. But it was also about embodying the attitude of someone who doesn’t care about likability.
“One thing I noticed in looking at some female directors is that, even though they’re still very feminine, they have something very different from actresses, which I found to be that they don’t have to charm anyone,” Zurer says. “You can be a charming person, but you’re not charming people to get their attention, which is something I felt about what she does: she’s very straight-forward.”
Sophie reignites the creative spark in Alice that inspires her to get back on set in the first place, but soon suspicions begin to arise in the director’s mind about this young woman’s inspirations, motivations and background. Alice throws herself into directing Sophie’s dramatic script about a young woman who kills herself when she learns her best friend is sleeping with her father, but she also begins to investigate Sophie on the side.
For Zurer, the dichotomy of emotions Alice comes to feel about Sophie created an interesting contradiction in her portrayal of the character: “It took a day or two to adjust the level of performance needed for this particular genre because you have to burn from the inside but not express it too much all the time. It was playing what she really wants, which is to be fulfilled and make the creation that she wants, but on the other hand, all the other emotions that you experience where there’s self-doubt and suspicion and guilt,” she explains.
Recently Zurer was sent a viral video of a lion following a man long after he walked by her cubs and in trying to understand that behavior better, she read about cats and tunnel vision. This ultimately helped her understand her character even better because Alice gets so sucked into Sophie’s story that she digs deeper and deeper, making some harsh decisions that end up resulting in sacrifice and personal loss. “She becomes more and more tunnel-visioned until the end,” Zurer says. “That’s her artistic process and that’s the meaning of the destructive force that she’s seemingly using.”
At first, this made Zurer see Alice as a victim, and it was Avin who made her realize that her way of thinking was a bit “black and white.”
“She kept saying, ‘It’s a choice,’” Zurer recalls. “I realized that I, as a woman and an actress and someone who has read so many stories about women, had to see her as a victim because otherwise I judged her.”
“I think what Sigal was saying is that there is a price,” she continues. “We, as women, have to be perfect in some ways: great moms and also great at work and look nice, and there’s a sense of, ‘You have to be all of it.’ But can you? The question is, can you have it all?”
“Losing Alice” streams new episodes Fridays on Apple TV Plus.
Source: Read Full Article