by Dan DeMaggio
If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting your whole life for a film about truck-stop whores. A day doesn’t pass when I don’t feel a vague emptiness in the pit of my soul because no one has had the cinematic balls to blow the lid off this much ignored tragedy that plagues almost every highway rest stop from California to Maine, from Minnesota to Florida. Each night I rock myself to sleep, whimpering softly into my pillow about the horrors of halter-topped working girls selling their wares to beer-bellied boys wearing baseball caps. If only someone could shoot this long-ignored tale with an indie sensibility using a digital camera and an alt-country soundtrack then perhaps we can all move forward, a nation that finally understands how white-trash grocery-store clerks can end up in a Winnebago eating microwaved chicken fingers and going down on lonely, hemorrhoid-ridden truckers looking for a little attention.
What Alice Found starts in New Hampshire, where young Alice is packing her things and getting the hell out of town. Cue the alt-country ballad. Show Alice driving. She’s fresh out of high school, hating her job at the grocery store, desperate to leave the place where Mom got trapped years ago. Poor Alice steals some money from work, making herself a fugitive. She wants to reunite with her school chum who is going to school in Florida. Alice wants to become a marine biologist. Alice dreamily remembers a trip to a water park. Show Alice staring at her key chain, where a plastic dolphin swings to and fro. Cue alt/country ballad.
Alice has some car problems. An extremely pleasant couple, straight out of the pleasant-Southern-folk-who-turn-out-to-be-something-quite-different department at central casting, offer her a ride in their homey recreational vehicle. Sandra is as sweet as pecan pie, buying Alice clothes and showing her how to use makeup in a very touching montage that is made even more touching by another alt-country ballad. Bill is Sandra’s husband, quiet and kind of creepy.
Alice, although a little tentative at first, accepts their generosity and their promise that they’ll get her to Florida. But they need to make a few “stops” first. Turns out Sandra is a truck-stop whore and Bill is her pimp! Alice, hard up for dough and kind of bored with just looking out the windows of the Winnebago all day, decides to spice up her itinerary by turning a few tricks herself. You see, she’s young and naive, plagued constantly by alt-country ballads, and prostitutin’ really ain’t that bad if you just look away and wait for it to end. Or so she thinks!
What Alice Found finally exposes what most of us have had nagging concerns about our whole lives. Is truck stop whoring a good thing or a bad thing? How much can you make in one night? Is it dangerous? Will whorin’ on the highway degrade your spirit, sully your soul? Finally, friends, a film that answers all these questions. You can stop all your frettin’ and carrying on because What Alice Found not only blows the lid off the whole dang thing, it’s real purty to listen to!
Playing at the Madstone Theatre (462 Briarwood Circle, Ann Arbor). Call 734-994-1000.
Dan DeMaggio writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.