Alice Cares

Directed by Sander Burger

In order to meet future care demands for elderly who are lonely and suffering from dementia, carebot Alice has been developed. Can a robot build a human relationship with someone and thus replace a person of flesh and blood? The three women, all getting on in years, who are visited by her in Alice Cares actually become pretty fond of the robot girl. Carebot Alice leaves the laboratory to visit Mrs. Remkes, Mrs. Schellekens-Blanke and Mrs. van Wittmarschen, each in their own house. The three women are getting on in age and are therefore exceptionally suited for the services of Alice, who has been developed by SELEMCA. This is a research group which tries to discover, with the help of community nurses and family, how 'sociobot' Alice should talk and react to stem the effects of loneliness on older women. The outcome of the experiment is surprising for all involved.


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  • ★★★½ review by Chris Hormann on Letterboxd

    Or Caregiver 3: Rise of the Machines.

    Touching, humourous and a glimpse into our future.

  • ★★★½ review by Romain Mereau on Letterboxd

    In 2025, there will be four times as many 80 year olds as there are alive today. Alice Cares looks at the question of how we will care for this growing aged population. The documentary follows a pilot currently being done in the Netherlands for a 'health care' robot. Her name is Alice, she has doll-like features and her job is to converse with seniors who live alone and help them in any way she can.

    There's something cold and sad about filling a human-sized hole in a person's life with a programmed robot. And yet, the truth is, some form of companionship is better than none. Director Sander Burger takes a minimalist approach, quietly observing the old women as they interact with Alice in their homes. Her awkward interruption of their still lives is challenging, and yet you come to celebrate the small moments. Every time Alice fumbles in a conversation, I'm disappointed; every time she does something well, it's a victory.

    It seems inevitable that, with the passing of time and more improvements, Alice will become more and more humanlike. Watching this documentary, I'm faced with the very likely possibility that when I'm 80, I will be conversing with one of Alice's descendants.

    Truly, we are living in the future.

  • ★★★★½ review by Sarah McMullan on Letterboxd

    I'll be honest, I'm not big on dolls. They're creepy. They have creepy little faces and creepy little hands and if they have creepy little eyes that blink? Well that's a deal breaker for me.

    The idea of having a robot with a doll face that moves and feels like a human on the body of a robot that then acts as a surrogate carer for the elderly is pretty much my idea of hell, but that's the premise of Alice Cares.

    A group of academics in the Netherlands, predicting a huge rise in the number of elderly due to the baby boom generation, are developing robotic carers to help people in their homes with day to day tasks as well as help alleviate boredom and loneliness.

    At this stage Alice cannot move, she can only listen and speak. Working with three women in their 80's, the film examines how their relationships with Alice develop, using their interaction as templates for improvements for her programming from both a technical and psychological standpoint.

    With cameras and microphones recording everything, access to the internet and an incredible operating system, Alice is able to carry on conversations and general chit chat; recall previous visits and discussions; provide help with things like postcodes and weather forecasts plus she asks questions. They converse, they talk.

    As one lady says when Alice leaves, "I'm going to have to stop talking now."

    Watching these 3 dignified, older women warm to this doll is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

    One woman invites Alice to watch football, gently teasing her about her inability to eat strudel. Another spends hours showing Alice her photo albums, explaining her family tree; while the third takes Alice for coffee, tells her about her day and a new friend she's made.

    While I still find Alice's face unnerving, there's no doubt that she's filling a void in these women's lives. Practically she can remind them about medication and exercises, appointments and bills. But the real difference that Alice is making is one I never thought possible - she cares. She really does.

    The question is, should we be leaving that up to a robot?

  • ★★★½ review by Emma on Letterboxd

    This documentary strikes a good balance between funny and serious. Although Alice the robot meets some rather lonely elderly women, they're not sorry for themselves, and they have some great interactions with this care-robot, who encourages them to exercise, talk about their day and sing a song. Interestingly, we don't just get to see the robot through people's eyes, we also see the people through the robot's eyes (literally: there's a webcam built in to her eyes so that she can register what's happening and respond to it). I wonder how it will hold up for foreign audiences, since part of the fun for me were the subtleties in language - Robot-Dutch versus human-Dutch.

  • ★★★½ review by Mart Noorkõiv on Letterboxd

    Ex Machina seenioritele.

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