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Alice, Darling (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)

Alice Darling

ALICE, DARLING (2022)

Starring Anna Kendrick, Kaniehtiio Horn, Wunmi Mosaku, Charlie Carrick, Mark Winnick, Daniel Stolfi, Susan Applewhaite, Mairi Babb, Sara Bradeen, Toni Ellwand, Carolyn Fe, Deborah Grover, Gordon Harper, James M Jenkinson, Lindsay Leese, Farah Merani, Ethan Mitchell, Viviana Zarrillo and Elena Khan.

Screenplay by Alanna Francis.

Directed by Mary Nighy.

Distributed by Lionsgate. 89 minutes. Rated R.

Screened at the 2022 Philadelphia Film Festival.

Abuse takes many forms. Take Alice, the heroine of Alice, Darling. Her boyfriend has never laid a hand on her. He never yells at her. Yet, she is being psychologically battered to the point that she is losing her best friends, literally pulling out her hair, has an apparent eating disorder, has lost all confidence and is a complete mess.  

Playing Alice a surprising turn for actress Anna Kendrick, who has done a good amount of drama over the years but is best known for comic-leaning performances like the Pitch Perfect movies, Up in the Air, A Simple Favor and Into the Woods.

It’s something of an eye-opening experience. We always knew that Kendrick had the talent, but Alice, Darling shows her acting skills to be much deeper and more complex than she is often given the opportunity to show. It’s a brave and disturbing performance, and yet Kendrick does find places for her trademark levity as well.

Playing the younger lover of an older, handsome, controlling and extremely passive-aggressive snob named Simon (Charlie Carrick), Kendrick has a brittle fragility which is hard to shake. As stated earlier, Simon is not outwardly hostile – he’s never hit her and constantly proclaims his love – and yet he uses pointed “observations” to exercise his will on her. He has her uncertain of herself, afraid to cross him, unwilling to see what she is becoming.

It all comes to a head one weekend when Alice’s two long-time best friends Sophie (Wunmi Mosaku) and Tess (Kaniehtiio Horn) invite her to spend a week at Sophie’s grandparents’ lakefront cabin to celebrate Tess’ 30th birthday.

Alice has been growing a bit distant to them anyway – apparently Simon does not like them or the fact that they distract Alice from him, although he would not acknowledge that. Sure that Simon would not approve, she lies to him and tells him that she is going on a business trip. However, she can’t relax, is constantly glued to the cell phone as Simon texts her regularly.

There is also a side story of a local girl who has gone missing, and almost as a way to avoid her friends, Alice gets involved in the search party.

When Simon finds out that she is with her friends and not working, he blows up her phone trying to get her to come home. Finally the friends simply hide the phone. And then, when freed of outside complications – off the grid, so to speak – she is able to finally be herself and heal her relationships with her friends and figure out who she is again.

And then when things are starting to come together, Simon shows up and throws a monkey wrench in the whole thing.

Alice, Darling is a stark and wrenching film, with wonderful performances not just by Kendrick, but also by Mosaku (who is also currently very memorable in Call Jane) and Horn as two women desperately worried about their friend and at the same time trying to deal with growing apart. Also, Carrick is chilling as the manipulative lover.

It is not an upbeat movie, but in the end, it is rather hopeful. To paraphrase the old song: “Ain’t it good to know that you’ve got friends.”

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2022 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 29, 2022.

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