This review was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.Can we ever really leave a world behind to start anew, or are we all destined to spend our lives running from the pain of our pasts? In The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Holly Ringland, this is the question that weighs heavy on the shoulders of its characters. Spanning years of their lives as they try to grapple with the fallout of a tragedy, it is a series that similarly leans heavily on its cast to carry it through its many rougher patches. As a showcase for leads Sigourney Weaver and Alycia Debnam-Carey, it proves each is capable of making the most of rather shaky material that comes dangerously close to coming apart. Through an almost sheer force of will, they manage to hold it together despite all the narrative fault lines that begin to form and threaten to consume everything.

The first of these begins when we are introduced to the young Alice Hart (Alyla Browne), whose life is defined by violence. Initially seen through her eyes in a manner that holds the abuse at a bit of a remove, this eventually reaches a breaking point and ultimately leaves her an orphan. She is then taken in by her grandmother June (Weaver) who is initially uncertain about the arrangement but eventually welcomes her in all the same. On her flower farm, she has built a community for women and children to take refuge from abusive situations. One of the people there is Twig, played by Leah Purcell (who was recently in the Sundance film Shayda which handled similar subjects with far more measure), who becomes more and more of a force in the story. Throughout its seven episodes, the secrets that make up their respective pasts soon come rushing into the forefront of the present. Some of this takes on a nightmarish quality, whereas others are serene, with many visuals proving to be more thoughtful than the rather blunt writing itself. There are moments that transcend this, but they remain too much of a rarity to balance out the accumulation of the series’ more clumsy components. The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart mistakes being didactic for detail, leaving the cast stranded in their own story as opposed to being the ones driving it. Instead, they’re often swept away by its escalations.

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‘The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart’ Loses Sight of Its Characters

Image via Prime Video

Where the presentation of the series itself can often be effectively immersive, the same cannot be said of its writing. Certain elements push us towards more of a thriller when the show works far better as a character study. The early episodes, where we come to know Alice in her youth and how she is beginning to navigate June’s world, are engaging in their simplicity. Some threats come from outside, but the more compelling aspects come from when we just get time to sit with the characters. The details of their lives they’re rebuilding for themselves, rather than the disasters that are both in their past and potential futures, are what prove to be most interesting. Disruptions to this tranquility are inevitable, but the way the series captures this leaves the characters in a lurch. In particular, the jump far into the future is where things start to feel the most uneven. Though there are echoes of the past in how things often repeat themselves, this shift lacks the resonance the series began with. Everything is too scattered, stripping away the layers that were being built and leaving us with little to hold onto. The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart bears similarities to another recent series Debnam-Carey was in, Saint X, while being just a bit more focused enough to end up feeling like a much greater missed opportunity.

The longer it goes, as it stretches out further in time and place, the more it loses sight of the strengths of its characters as a result. There is a care to each of the performances that is undercut by the way it is all stitched together, making individual pieces and scenes where we are seeing the characters grow into too much of a rarity. Instead, the series is driven by plot and unfolding revelations about narrative details rather than character ones. Some of the closing conversations in the final episode are especially tough, with a lot of exposition to get through before the emotional payoff. Like the recent series The Crowded Room, this show leans too far into being about taking us back through the gory details of what happened even after we’ve already been able to figure it out on our own.

In making the past the emphasis, the future for the characters is given less room to breathe and remains too constrained. It takes up all the oxygen, holding the cast back from getting to truly explore this story with the necessary depth. One scene where a character is surrounded by fire, prompting flashbacks to the blaze that set this all in motion, makes this almost literal. We receive every answer about what happened, but there is little time left to sit with the emotions underpinning it all. The closing moments are where said emotions can be felt the most, but they’re merely a last gasp for something more rather than a truly earned culmination.

Sigourney Weaver Remains Spectacular in ‘The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart’

Sigourney Weaver as June Hart in The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart.
Image via Prime Video

Without going into specifics about what happens, there is one scene towards the end of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart featuring Weaver that is shattering even while little is said. Seeing her finally receive a real instance through which to command the story — without having to fight against the narrative — offers a hint of what could’ve been had she not been so sidelined. It makes for a more moving moment than anything else that preceded it and is bolstered by a monologue she gives that is finally one the series makes room for. The fact that she finds her voice so near the end of the series only brings into focus that she should’ve been given the chance to speak with such force much sooner.

Rating: C+

The Big Picture

  • The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart loses sight of its characters.
  • The strong performances of Sigourney Weaver and Alycia Debnam-Carey elevate the sometimes shaky material, but the writing fails to give them room to breathe.
  • While the series boasts rich visuals, its writing detracts from its potential as a more dynamic character study.

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart premieres August 4 on Prime Video.

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