Synopsis: In the taut thriller ALICE, DARLING, Oscar® nominee Anna Kendrick (Best Supporting
Actress, Up in the Air, 2009) stars as a woman pushed to the breaking point by her psychologically abusive boyfriend, Simon. While on vacation with two close girlfriends, Alice rediscovers the essence of herself and gains some much-needed perspective. Slowly, she starts to fray the cords of codependency that bind her. But Simon’s vengeance is as inevitable as it is shattering – and, once unleashed, it tests Alice’s strength, her courage, and the bonds of her deep-rooted friendships.
Abuse is not to be taken lightly and it rarely manifests itself exactly how you think it’s going to—you may never know it’s happening. While the vast majority of us wish that abuse didn’t take place, there are those who look at every relationship as an opportunity for control. No matter if it’s physical, verbal mental, or a combination, the best thing we can do is hold those responsible accountable and protect those affected by it.
“Is this what you think love is?”
When worse comes to worst, hopefully, your friends have your back. Directed by Mary Nighy, Alice, Darling is a subtle yet striking reminder to check on your friends. Taking on a reality that affects way too many people, women especially, this ever-tense look at someone fully entrenched in an abusive relationship is tackled in an unfamiliar way. Placing us directly in the middle of a not-so-great, but seemingly normal couple situation, Nighy opts out of walking us through the beginning stages of the malicious romance. Instead, she places us in the second half of an already-lopsided game. Subsequently, it puts us in a real-life situation of questioning everything happening in front of our eyes from the perspective of her friends. Moreover, through Alice’s eyes, we question her sanity and ability to leave, but we know it’s not that simple. Led by one of Anna Kendrick’s best performances, you’ll wonder, how much of this is in her head and what is actually happening, or is it all a result of continuous trauma and manipulation? However, where this keen thriller shines is its representation of the importance of a caring support system.
“What will he do if he doesn’t hear from you?”
While it’s easier to point out some of the obvious and devious ways that abuse materializes and often hides in plain sight, I’d like to focus on the positivity of this heartbreaking and infuriating story. As I mentioned earlier the support system plays an integral and indelible role in this film and in situations similar to what Alice is suffering through. While the support can be made of family, friends, or a mixture of some sort, in this case, it’s two lifelong friends. Despite some personal beef, the two recognize odd behavior and responses from their friend and do what is necessary in order to attempt to help her heal. At its core, the story is one of abuse and the physical and psychological effects it can have on a person despite nothing physically violent taking place. Nevertheless, everything that surrounds it, and quite possibly the crux of the film, are the friendships that guide us through the darkness. This film is tense, disheartening, serene, and introspective, while also being extremely cautionary. It shows us that there might be pain behind that smile and fear in every action. We are reminded to recognize the signs of abuse, as subtle as they may be, and to stand up for as well as to those we care for. This is not a film that you’ll want to casually watch. This is one that may help someone heal, inspire someone to ask for help, and show others that while you aren’t hurting your partner with your hands and feet, you may in fact be traumatizing them mentally. Alice, Darling is a heavy viewing experience but important nonetheless. I got a lot out of this film and you will too. Its rewatchability is medium.
Pacing & Pop
While the film may be a slowburn, the pacing is great for the type of story being told. There’s a lingering ominous feeling along with a cloud of tension that come from more than one angle. What popped for me was the level of friendship that is displayed. It’s not perfect or glitzy and bubbly, but its realistic with realistic drama that we see get resolved in a reality-based manner.
Characters & Chemistry
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Kaniehtiio Horn, Charlie Carrick, Wunmi Mosaku
In an all-too-real story, this is one of Anna Kendrick’s best performances to date. The pain and turmoil that are displayed on the screen can be felt in your bones as she hibernates in the bathroom with hands full of hair. The friend-friction between Kendrick’s Alice and Kaniehtiio Horn’s Tess is incredibly realistic. Not to mention, Wunmi Mosaku as Sophie continues to deliver great performances.
Alice, Darling is currently exclusively in AMC theaters as of January 20, 2023. Remain safe and enjoy.
Rated: R Runtime: 1h 30m Director: Mary Nighy Writer: Alanna Francis Producers: Katie Bird Nolan, Lindsay Tapscott, Christina Piovesan, Noah Segal Executive Producers: Anna Kendrick, Sam Tipper-Hale, Laurie May, Adrian Love Director of Photography: Mike McLaughlin Music by: Owen Pallett
Alice, Darling is a subtle yet striking reminder to check on your friends
Observing the human race since 1988.