Losing Alice gets kinky as the end draws near [Apple TV+ review]

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Alice, played by Ayelet Zurer, finally gains the upper hand this week.
Photo: Apple TV+

Losing Alice starts to wind down its look at the perverse triangle formed by a screenwriter, a director and their star in the Apple TV+ psychothriller’s penultimate episode.

The time has come for Alice to direct David and Sophie in their big, erotic close-up. Can they find the chemistry needed to sell it before the wheels come off the machine and Sophie is found out?

Losing Alice review: ‘The Scene’

The movie is shooting now, and they’ve reached the climactic love scene where David (played by Gal Toren) and Sophie (Lihi Kornowski) have to have sex. It’s fake, everyone knows it’s fake, but … everyone also knows it’s not really fake. It’s very loaded.

Alice (Ayelet Zurer) has watched David grow more distant with her and fall more into Sophie’s confidence. And frankly, their marriage wasn’t doing well before the beautiful scribe strode into their lives. Sophie has proven herself hugely distrustful and not at all respectful of boundaries of any kind. And Alice by now has so much evidence about Sophie’s shady former life that she could qualify as an accessory.

Now, we just need for everyone involved to shoot a sex scene that lasts a small eternity.

Three, two, one … action!

Alice knows a couple things about Sophie now. She knows she stole her script from a roommate she might have killed. She knows Sophie’s gotten too cozy with her husband. And she also knows Sophie is sexually careless, which wouldn’t matter so much except that she keeps asking Alice to bail her out of situations she shouldn’t be in.

And we know a couple of things about Alice. She doesn’t care about any of this because the idea of making a movie is too important to her, because she is just as much a sociopath as Sophie, or because she’s planning to turn in Sophie and steal the whole thing herself.

At this point, I don’t really care about her motive. Whatever character work Zurer has done so far (and she’s done a great job — Alice is by now someone we know very well), it wasn’t to build someone who’s cool with the first two options. And if the whole show is a Breaking Bad-style look at someone who goes from normal member of society to super-criminal … it’s not the most interesting spin on that look and there have been nothing but missed opportunities.

Admittedly, the show is called Losing Alice. But its creators didn’t build an Alice nice enough to lose, or a new Alice interesting enough to justify a five-and-a-half hour descent into the character.

It's Lihi Kornowski's turn to lose it this week on Losing Alice.
It’s Lihi Kornowski’s turn to lose it this week.
Photo: Apple TV+

… and cut

This week’s episode, titled “The Scene,” becomes monotonous. After insisting on take after take on set, David and Alice endure a tense drive home. Then they discover their neighbor suffering a nervous breakdown in their home.

They both agree that a separation is the best thing for them, at least while they’re making the movie, shocking no one. It all just feels like wheel-spinning at this point, killing time before the big finale. Which, barring an alien invasion or a shootout with the Israel Defense Forces, can’t possibly be that big.

Throughout the limited series, the way the show handles every fringe character as conduits to Alice’s breakdown also proves enervating. Why bother introducing so many people — David’s mother, Sophie’s boyfriend, Alice’s producer — if they don’t serve any particular function beyond a very easily ignored Greek chorus?

This week, when they finally get to the last “good” take of the scene, it’s predictably underwhelming. David, for all Losing Alice talks about him as an actor who used to be great, has given a pretty terrible performance in every scene of the show’s centerpiece film — which, it should be said, looks like just another erotic thriller.

I recognize that once you decide something is too long for its own good, it’s going to be impossible to be convinced otherwise. But this episode should have been 20 tense minutes in a feature, not one scene split up with predictable domestic drama.

Losing Alice on Apple TV+

New episodes of Losing Alice arrive on Apple TV+ each Friday.

Rated: TV-MA

Watch on: Apple TV+

Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the director of 25 feature films, and the author of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.