Alice Fades Away


Reviewed by: Stephanie Brown

Alice Fades Away
"Shelton does well to capture Alice’s aloofness which immediately draws you into the story, but after a while the one-dimensional elements of the writing isolate the spectator."

Throughout the last couple of years, directorial debuts have been a thing of mesmerising beauty, with each new filmmaker bringing a different recipe to the narrative conventions, and experimentations with tone, design and character. The same could be said for Ryan Bliss, through his debut feature, Alice Fades Away. Where inspirations from genres of the past generate something new, instead of merely reflecting the stories that have been told before.

Alice (Ashley Shelton), hides away from her past and present haunts, at her uncle’s farm - an idyllic, isolated patch where new lives can be formed and old ones left behind. There she meets other outsiders seeking shelter who have been taken in by her uncle in what appears to be through philanthropic motivations alone. But while her new refuge offers solace, secrets and faces from the past are not far behind.

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Unfortunately the predominant problem with the feature lies in the incoherence of a blend of elements that never quite marry together. What Bliss seems to strive for is a sense of ambiguity, that never moves far away from jarring conflictions in genre and style. The film itself travels from a mystery thriller, to a rural horror, and ends in a somewhat anticlimactic drama that never manages to justify the erratic shifts in the script. The characters also fail to gel and adapt to the changing tones of the script. Shelton does well to capture Alice’s aloofness which immediately draws you into the story, but after a while the one-dimensional elements of the writing isolate the spectator from a character which never seems developed enough to become attached to.

It’s difficult to harbour intense criticism for the experimental nature of Bliss’ creation. In many ways it’s very interesting in the way these shifts capture the nostalgia of the kind of films it has been drawn from. If the film was longer in length it may well have been able to capture and embrace the transitions throughout in a more pensive and provocative manner. It’s unclear what type of filmmaking Bliss will take in his stride throughout his career, but from the samples provided in Alice Fades Away, it is more than clear he has a deep understanding of the aesthetics of many.

Bliss crafts an interesting debut feature, with an array of themes that are explored in innovative and inventive ways. While a lot of the film loses its composure in the ever-changing formula of Bliss’ drifting script, the sharp notes he leaves behind make him one to watch out for on his next project.

Reviewed on: 08 Mar 2021
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A woman seeks refuge at her uncle’s farm, but the demons from her past are not far behind.

Director: Ryan Bliss

Writer: Ryan Bliss

Starring: Ashley Shelton, William Sadler, Blanche Baker, Paxton Singleton, Timothy Sekk, Jay Potter, Emily Eckes, Tommy Beardmore, Benjamin Russell, Nick Yiakoumatos, Conor William Wright, Jim Vaglica, Nathan Bliss, Kevin Bruton, Laurel Ledoux

Year: 2021

Runtime: 76 minutes

Country: US


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