“Alex of Venice” is the filmic version of the kind of “sad comedy” that thrives on a basic cable or streaming service. Perhaps, after binging five hours, it would feel like a satisfying, whole portrait of a woman rocked by the twin disasters of her marriage dissolving and the health of her father deteriorating. But it’s really just the first two episodes.
We get a decent idea about who Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Alex is as a person, though we never get the kind of deep dive that a filmic character study normally provides. There is something quietly courageous and inspiring about her tenacity through all the responsibilities she must juggle. As mother, daughter/caretaker and de facto head of house, Alex barely has time to do her job as provider. She does not just have one of those bogus movie jobs either; Alex is waist-deep in trying a major environmental case.
Director Chris Messina has worked with a number of great female talents in his time – Nora Ephron, Gia Coppola and quite extensively with Mindy Kaling on television’s “The Mindy Project.” It’s clear that he wants to replicate their earnestness in addressing what it means to be a woman in today’s world. But good intentions are not enough to salvage this undercooked, underdeveloped script from Jessica Goldberg, Katie Nehra and Justin Shilton. “Alex of Venice” feels halfway onto something good. Too bad it stops so short of its potential. C+ /