Apple TV + review: “Losing Alice”, a sexy suspense thriller from Israel

The new suspense show, “Losing Alice,” is unlike anything Apple TV + has shown before and points to a promising art house future for the streaming service.

A few months after the debut of Tehran, an above-average Israeli suspense thriller, Apple TV + returns to the same country again with Losing Alice. It’s a very different show from most of what has been on Apple TV + to date, with genre traps of film noir and erotic thrillers rarely seen on any kind of US screens these days.

Losing Alice is an Israeli show. But it’s a show about Israel that doesn’t touch politics, the Arab-Israeli conflict or anything else controversial. Nor is it about spies, which is the subject of so many Israeli shows that find popularity in the United States. Instead, it’s a twisty thriller set in the Israeli entertainment industry, about which Apple called it “a love letter to the still-too-rare female director.”

The eight-episode limited series debuts January 22 with its first three episodes, with one episode per week through the end of February. I saw the first three and found the show an intriguing twist on Faustian themes, lifted by the extraordinary performances of the two leading actresses.

Alice and Sophie

Lihi Kornowski and Ayelet Zurer in “Losing Alice”, which premiered on Apple TV + on January 22nd.

Losing Alice – called L’abed et Alice in Hebrew – was created by Israeli-American writer and director Sigal Avin, and is presented in Hebrew with English subtitles.

The series is about Alice (Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer.) She is a famous Israeli director, married to a well-known actor (Gal Toren.) Her career has slowed down since she had children in her early 40s.

The couple are upset when, one day on a train, Alice meets Sophie (Lihi Kornowski), an up and coming young screenwriter who has written a hot script for an erotic thriller called Room 209. Sophie claims she is not just a huge fan of the director. but that she was also once inspired to bring a boy home and reenact a certain act she saw in one of Alice’s films.

The three end up working together, causing things to go in obsessive and distribution directions. And in showing this, the narrative plays a lot with time, incorporating flashbacks, flashforwards, and movie-in-show scenes.

Star performance

Ayelet Zurer in “Losing Alice”, which premiered on Apple TV + on January 22nd.

Losing Alice has no cast members who will be particularly recognizable to American audiences. Zurer has had a few roles in Hollywood, including Superman’s mother in Krypton, Lara Lor-Van, in Man of Steel and some parts in TV shows. Kornowski, who is also Israeli, has had most of her credits in Israeli TV series.

They are both exceptional in this show, Zurer as a senior director grappling with a career opportunity and Kornowski as the type of femme fatale, who looks like late Saturday Night Live actress Jan Hooks.

The two have a particularly tour de force moment in the third episode when they go to a weird dance class together.

Rated R

Ayelet Zurer and Lihi Kornowski in “Losing Alice”, which premiered on Apple TV + on January 22nd.

Losing Alice is the kind of show that goes against that narrative, since the launch of Apple TV +, that Apple wouldn’t schedule anything with sexual or adult content.

The show has sex scenes that are quite spicy by Apple TV + standards and even, ironically, a subplot about whether producing an erotic thriller movie is the right thing to do. There’s even the occasional nudity, the kind of thing that haven’t been seen much on the streaming service so far. Whether this represents a change of mind for Apple remains to be seen, or whether Apple applies a different standard to the shows it has acquired from overseas.

Either way, Losing Alice opens up a lot of possibilities as to what kind of shows and movies might end up on Apple TV + in the future. The streaming service hasn’t made many forays into the art house yet, but Losing Alice alludes to the promise that a weird, extravagant and even overtly sexual international fare could find its way to the service in a short time.


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