Losing Alice comes to an emotional close [Apple TV+ review]

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Ayelet Zurer and Lihi Kornowski in Losing Alice
Alice and Sophie say a long goodbye at last.
Photo: Apple TV+

On this week’s Losing Alice, Apple TV+’s erotic thriller series about filmmaking, director Alice has a big premiere coming up but her star isn’t present. Just what happened in Room 209 — and what’s next?

Losing Alice review: ‘The End’

In the show’s final episode, Alice (played by Ayelet Zurer) and David (Gal Toren) attend the premiere of their film, Room 209. A journalist wants to know if, with everything that happened on set, they would do it all again the same way. Then Losing Alice flashes back to show us what they’re talking about.

After the shoot finishes, Alice watches, drunk and disturbed, as David and screenwriter Sophie (Lihi Kornowski) dance enthusiastically with each other at the wrap party. That’s when Alice and Sophie finally confront each other. Sophie thinks Alice is ruining her script, and Alice finally admits she knows that Sophie stole it from her dead roommate, Nomy.

This, it must be said, is a deeply unsatisfying climax. With everything that’s happened, and weeks of the two leads circling each other, to bring up this one piece of information feels like too little, too late.

Then Sophie goes upstairs — and Nomy’s mother is waiting there for her.

Wrap party

Alice (Ayelet Zurer) finally loses herself in Losing Alice's final episode.
Alice (Ayelet Zurer) finally loses herself.
Photo: Apple TV+

This episode starts with an infuriating scene where Alice imagines Sophie helping her get dressed for the big premiere. There’s an undeniable romantic charge in their play. The show has done zero work to establish that what Alice wanted from Sophie was romantic love. And it certainly hasn’t shown them on these kinds of terms as friends, making this the most annoying sort of misdirect.

You’re meant to think it’s happening but, like the bathtub dream from episode 6, it feels deeply perfunctory. If this is what Alice wants, why hasn’t she expressed it at all? It shouldn’t come as a surprise to be let into the heroine’s subconscious and see her desires. Not after seven hour-long episodes.

Without spoiling the ending (which you probably guessed, but even if you haven’t, it doesn’t really matter), it’s a little more satisfying than I imagined. However, that still makes it pretty weak.

There’s one great image of someone watching the film festival on an iPad in a hospital bed that I don’t want to spoil, but the show needed more off-kilter misery like that all throughout its eight long episodes. There’s a beautiful irony to the image that’s more interesting than anything else in the Losing Alice finale.

With a bang and a whimper.

Maybe it was because I was glad the grating and meaningless battle of wits between Sophie and Alice was finally over, but I didn’t mind that the last episode does nothing in particular. It’s largely Alice wandering the film festival grounds and the hotel where she shot the last scene of the show, and that’s fine. The show played its big final hand, and it was nothing special, so sure, just wallow and unwind.

The show has one last plot point to unfold in the last few minutes which can’t really do anything now that everything’s over. All I can say is that if they’re planning a second season of Losing Alice, I hope they let someone else write it and come up with a stronger hook than “a screenwriter with a shady past makes life hard for an unhappy director.” Because for all the feinting at sexual intrigue and crime, that’s really all this is. And that’s simply not enough.

I really do want to know whether the incentive to make a series over a movie is so great these days that it can convince people that any and every story needs to be stretched like a medieval prisoner to season length. I just don’t get how anyone got a look at the long-term plans for Losing Alice and didn’t insist on cuts immediately.

Ayelet Zurer is fantastic. I could have watched a very long movie or series just about her going through life, but this isn’t that. This is trumped-up erotic intrigue predicated on the promise of something interesting that never arrives. Yes, it’s finely directed and put together. Everyone in it is perfectly alright. And some of the scenes work very well. But as a piece of dramatic fiction where each episode must help you get excited for the next one? Losing Alice was dead on arrival.

Losing Alice on Apple TV+

The final episode of Losing Alice arrives on Apple TV+ today.

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.