In a very grown-up variation on Lewis Carroll, Woody Allen’s Alice (Mia Farrow) is beset by two of life’s most common ailments: a loveless marriage and a bad back, both of which bring her to a Chinese herbalist named Dr. Yang. With his help, Alice has an affair with a sax player (Joe Mantegna), gets pointers from the ghost of her first love (Alec Baldwin), even becomes invisible, and in the process discovers her true nature.

Given tepid reviews when released in theaters, Alice works much better on home video, where, I think, we’re more open to wonder and perhaps more forgiving of shortcomings. In the intimate atmosphere of video, Mia Farrow’s performance — Alice’s fluttery embarrassments, her tentative excitements, and her wistful longings — whispers directly and eloquently to the viewer. It’s like spending an evening alone with someone who is charming, funny, troubled, and ultimately revelatory. A-

  • Movie
  • 106 minutes