Prime Video’s The Lost Flowers of Alice Heart is more than just a TV show, it’s a moving and stunning interpretation of the ongoing trauma that humans suffer due to the existence of domestic abuse.
For writer, showrunner and executive producer Sarah Lambert, the seven-part mini-series (which premieres on Friday, August 3) was not only meant to be a haunting adaptation of the novel of the same name, but a vehicle for the audience to “find some peace” if they’ve ever been at the hands of violence.
“This is why we made it,” Lambert said during an interview on Mediaweek and Chattr’s The Entertainment Hotline Podcast. “Because the most important thing for her [author Holly Ringland] when she dedicated this book was that she didn’t want people to feel alone.
“There are so many of us who have gone through this. This is our lived experience and our story. She didn’t want people sitting in that shame or sitting in that experience. That we aren’t alone. By telling our stories, can find some peace and this is why this show is so important.”
13-year-old Alyla Browne wanted to tell the story in the right way
Based on Ringland’s best-selling debut novel, the series tells the story of Alice (Alyla Browne / Alycia Debnam-Carey), when at aged 9, she tragically loses her parents, Clem (Charlie Vickers) and Agnes (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) in a mysterious fire. Alice is then taken to live with her grandmother June (Sigourney Weaver) at Thornfield flower farm, where she learns that there are secrets within secrets about her and her family’s past.
Set against Australia’s natural landscape, Alice grows from her complicated history, with her journey building to an emotional climax when she finds herself fighting for her life against a man she loves.
Lambert herself grew up in a volatile household and due to this, has lived a life of hyper-vigilance, something that Alice embodies at her core. 13-year-old Browne (who stole every single scene she was in) was insistent in telling the story, gaining insight from Lambert.
“She really wanted to sit down and go through the script and talk about it,” Lambert said. “She wanted to understand and wanted to know what I wanted from it. I spoke incredibly candidly about what it’s like to feel hyper-vigilant, what it’s like to always be watching, to get a sense of what’s going to happen before it happens.”
For the majority of her performance, Browne was reliant on movement and facial expressions, given that her character lost her voice due to trauma.
“It was that thing of having your voice taken from you,” she said. That thing of being silenced and trying to kind of gauge where you are all the time. She took all of these things on board so brilliantly. It was such an extraordinary thing to watch.
“She has this incredible ability where she doesn’t act, she just has to find this way of ‘being’ and when she knows what she’s doing and saying, she just embodies it, and it’s an incredible gift that she has.”
Why Sarah Lambert turned the novel into a mini-series
When questioned why she decided to bring Ringland’s novel to the screen, Lambert was “struck” by Alice’s story.
“When I read the opening lines of it, and this girl sort of sitting at the end of this dusty road imagining setting her father on fire, not because she’s an evil person, but because she just wants things to change,” she said. “She just wants it to be different… she wants the worst of him to be burned away and she’s looking at all these images of Phoenix’s and she wants that.
“What really struck me was how when I read the novel — I mean the novel is very different to where we ended up, like the structure of it is completely different — we leaned into it, but I really wanted to hold on to what I think Holly did so brilliantly. I loved Alice. I related to her.”
When Lambert was young, her mum raised her kids as a single mum after leaving her abusive father.
“There were lots of things in my own life that I related to,” she admitted. “And then how you can relive it in your adult life… My mum ended up working for DOCS later on in life, and she worked with women’s refuges and children’s programmes. So, she was always I knew everything there was to know about this issue, but you can still go on, and relive that trauma. So there were things [in the story] that I just felt like, this is my story as much as it is of so many other women that I know.”
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart was produced by Amazon Studios, Made Up Stories, and Fifth Season. It is executive produced by Jodi Matterson, Bruna Papandrea, and Steve Hutensky of Made Up Stories and Weaver, Lambert, and Glendyn Ivin. Ivin also directs all seven episodes and Lambert serves as showrunner.
If you or someone you know has experienced or is experiencing any form of abuse, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart premieres on Prime Video on August 4.