The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart

There is family tension and history, and then there is the language of flowers in a hypnotising new local drama.

The latest addition to Subscription local drama is another winner in Prime Video’s The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart.

Settle in for a moody slow-burn with some captivating visuals and brooding performances with tension rippling just below the surface.

The backdrop for the story, based on the novel by Holly Ringland, is a small coastal region where canefields almost touch the sea and nine year old Alice (Alyla Browne) lives with mum Agnes (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) and dad Clem (Charlie Vickers).

But this is a troubled home, as the show warns: “This episode deals with sensitive issues, including domestic violence. Viewer discretion is advised.”

On the outside this a loving trio, but when librarian Sally (Asher Keddie) encounters a fragile and bruised Alice, she alerts her husband, local cop John (Alexander England).

After a fire engulfs the family home, survivor Alice is cared for by her distant -in more ways than one- grandmother June (Sigourney Weaver) who is in a same-sex relationship with Twig (Leah Purcell) on a flower farm, which doubles as a womens’ refuge of sorts. But Sally, who sadly lost her own child, is determined to adopt Alice if she can find reason to discredit June.

Connected to the story is a deep revelation of the “language of flowers.” While characters explain the significance of individual flowers, so too does the drama itself, with titles on screen which magically convey emotions and messages (“I’ll mourn your absence”).

There are also wood carvings in the Hart family which represent supressed family secrets -there’s a lot of history to unravel here and despite the backdrop, none of it is pretty.

What makes this work really sing is the masterful hand of director Glendyn Ivin who, together with screenwriter Sarah Lambert, keep the truth at arm’s length distance while hypnotising you with intoxicating visuals, evocative scenes and strong performances from cast.

Sigourney Weaaver as star is very nearly upstaged by Alyla Browne as young Alice. Weaver is initially the unwelcome outsider but comes to take a commanding role in the story, complemented beautifully by Leah Purcell.

Asher Keddie again delivers as a regretful mother, challenged by her righteous husband, and matched wondefully with Alexander England (reuniting from Offspring 2016 for TV buffs).

There are supporting roles and cameos from Andrew McFarlane, Maggie Dence, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor, Xavier Samuel, Shareena Clanton, Vivienne Awosoga, Trisha Morton Thomas, Catherine McClements, Emma Lung, Deborah Kennedy and more.

Amid all the tension and beauty there’s little room for humour alas, and Weaver’s accent, which feels like it has pulled back from any American twang, is a little uneven.

But the canvas and art of this work is quite spellbinding and leans heavily into binge television for audiences intrigued by its many layers.

If streaming platforms plan more local dramas of this quality then we’ll all be winners.

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart premieres Friday on Prime Video.

5 Responses

  1. Holly Ringland is a gifted writer (her second novel, “The Seven Skins of Esther Wilding”, is even better than “The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart”). I can’t wait to see how her work translates to the small screen! Your review suggests “fantastically”!

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