Alice’s House (2008): Brazilian Chico Teixeira’s First Feature, Multi-Generational Family Drama

Brazilian Chico Teixeira’s first feature, Alice’s House, concerns contemporary life in Brazil, as seen through the lives of one working-class family, headed by middle-aged manicurist-mother Alice (portrayed by the acclaimed actress Carla Ribas).

Filled with insights about family, relationships, and trust, the film is considered by many Brazilian critics a highlight of their cinema.

Alice’s existence is dominated by taking care of everyone in her Sao Paulo apartment, from her elderly mother to her taxi-driver husband and three sons; there is no space left for herself.

Just when she thinks she has found a way out of the trap, she’s disappointed again by the surrounding, inescapable male-dominated world.

Alice, at once spirited, affectionate, resourceful, forgiving, nurturing, flirtatious and naive, lives in a neighborhood in the outskirts of Sao Paulo, sharing an apartment with her mother, Dona Jacira, who is experiencing vision problems, her uncompassionate husband, Lindomar, a taxi-driver, and their three sons, Lucas, Edinho, and Junior.

At home, Dona Jacira (Berta Zemel) takes care of the household chores. She washes, irons, cooks, and cleans, while listening to her favorite radio show. Carlinhos Abranches, the show’s host, seems to alleviate the old woman’s loneliness as she grapples with the realization that she is gradually going blind.

Lucas (Vinicius Zinn), the eldest son, a conservative man by nature, is in the army and has ambitions of becoming a lieutenant, so that he can imitate the authoritarian behavior of his superiors. In his free time, he secretly makes extra money from the old men with whom he spends time.

Edinho (Ricardo Vilaa), the middle son, is Dona Jaciras most affectionate grandson, but even she is not spared from his need and compulsion for a new pair of sneakers or a Walkman.

Junior (Felipe Massuia), the youngest son, is the most fragile and closest to Alice. Lucas is his role model and like all adolescents, he is tormented by affection and his own sexual awakenings.

After 20 years of marriage, neither Lindomar (Zcarlos Machado) nor Alice expects much by way of reconciliation. The taxi-driver saves his sexual impulses for the various affairs he maintains, favoring the company of teenage girls.  For her part, Alice pretends not to acknowledge her husband’s infidelities.

Enter Nilson (Luciano Quirino), Alice’s old flame from her adolescent years.  Alice sees in him the possibility to realize her romantic dreams, the avenue changing the course of her love life and finances.

A light feminist perspective enlightens this melodrama that positions a strong character at the center of as narrative that tries to capture the socio-economics of Brazilian society vis-a-vis the opportunities available to women of a certain age and class.


Carla Ribas as Alice
Vinicius Zinn as Lucas
Ricardo Vilaa as Edinho
Felipe Massuia as Junior
Zcarlos Machado as Lindomar
Berta Zemel as Dona Jacira
Renata Zhaneta as Carmen
Luciano Quirino as Nilson
Mariana Leighton as Thas.


Directed by Chico Teixeira.
Produced by Patrick Leblanc and Zita Carvalhosa. Screenplay by Chico Teixeira, Julio Pessoa, Sabina Anzuategui and Marcelo Gomes. Cinematography: Mauro Pinheiro Jr.
Production Design: Marcos Pedroso.
Editing: Vnia Debs.

Alice’s House is distributed by Figa Filmas/Vitagraph Films.

Portuguese, subtitled in English.

Running Time 90 min.