Alice’s House is the first feature film for Brazilian director Chico Teixeira, who has until now dedicated himself to the production of documentaries. This point is significant because of the notable commitment to honest storytelling that the film reveals.

There are no fancy cinematic tricks, no pushed moments of sentimentalism, no music even. The story unfolds just as if we were watching real life.

The camera tracks moments in the lives of Alice and her family who share a flat in Sao Paulo, the largest city in Brazil. The family includes Alice’s aging mother, a disinterested cab driver husband her three grown sons who still live at home.

What unfolds are the issues of everyday life; lust, jealousy, secrecy and betrayal. They are so familiar, yet profound in their impact by sheer believability.

Actress Carla Ribas is fabulous as hardworking Alice, a woman disillusioned and lonely, trapped in a 20-year marriage devoid of passion and tenderness. Things get stirred up when the husband of one of her biggest clients at the salon where she works turns out to be an old teenage boyfriend.

We find ourselves rooting for Alice and her newfound passion, yet the style of the film reminds us that this is no romantic Hollywood comedy. Likewise, in a very unformulaic manner, she is not the sole attention of our focus. Each of the other characters is duly represented in their own struggles.

The effect is surprisingly powerful. In an age when we expect our entertainment to be keenly constructed to pull on our heartstrings it’s refreshing to discover that we can feel compassion with out being manipulated into it.

Grade: A

Alice’s House releases in select theaters Jan. 25.