[This post originally appeared as part of Recommendation Machine, IndieWire’s daily TV picks feature.]
Where to Watch “Losing Alice”: Apple TV+ (the series originally aired on the Israeli TV network Hot 3)
For a show filled with different forms of temptation, it only makes sense that “Losing Alice” is told in a way that makes it appealing to try to solve it. From the opening scene, a brutal introduction to this world intended to be as disorienting as it is bloody, the viewer is a little at the mercy of the tangled web that writer/director Sigal Avin lays out over eight episodes.
Rather than keep the audience adrift (or present its story in a way that only makes sense with thorough unpacking), the show is rooted in Alice (Ayelet Zurer), a filmmaker at a career crossroads who wants to ditch her for-hire work and make a true artistic statement. One possibility gets dangled in front of her on a chance train encounter with Sophie (Lihi Kornowski), a novice screenwriter with a subversive idea for a film.
The details of how their potential working relationship evolves is best left to watching the series itself, but it’s not a surprise that Alice’s interest in this project starts a gradual shift in her life. Her husband David (Gal Toren), himself an accomplished actor, also takes a shine to this enigmatic script about a tumultuous friendship and a dangerous seduction. Before long, all three people find themselves sinking deeper into a project that becomes much more involving than they initially realized.
Stories of ingenues, blurred lines between fiction and reality, and artists getting in way over their head have well-established precedent. Avin uses some of those spiritual predecessors to her advantage, particularly as Alice gets locked into her own off-screen mystery. Yet this series is its own special blend, by virtue of how well it follows its title character. “Losing Alice” is governed by mood, one that’s always dialed in to the passions and insecurities of the woman at its center.
The show also features a breakout performance from Kornowski, who ensures that Sophie holds her own in the eventual psychological tug-of-war matches. As things get progressively more convoluted, Toren does the delicate work of finding the willingness inside David’s confusion.
Yet, without Zurer completely locked into what Avin is working toward, this show wouldn’t succeed nearly as well. Some viewers might know Zurer from her recent turn as the couples therapist on Season 3 of “You” — here, she’s the one inside a marriage being put to the test. For Alice, the mystery is rarely about what she wants. She has creative and professional ambition and is clearly drawn to some alluring targets over the course of the season. What Zurer really captures is that internal conflict. As Alice sees opportunities present themselves, sometimes in real time as her cameras are rolling, Zurer makes the slightest adjustments with each new bit of on-screen information.
It all comes to a head in the season’s penultimate episode, a fascinating case study in artistic power and control. (For those who’ve already seen it, Avin spoke more about the emotional dynamics of some of those pivotal scenes here.) The more it becomes clear that this project will face some additional financial costs (the changing tenor of Alice’s conversations with the film’s producer is an example of “Losing Alice” also being funny when it wants to be), there are plenty of other calculations at play.
Those incremental shifts help “Losing Alice” create its own sense of reality, one where things don’t have to exist outside of someone’s imagination to have some extreme, tangible effects. It’s a show that keeps you guessing, all the way up through its final seconds.