Anna Kendrick keeps you involved from start to finish.
There’s a low key aspect to how an abusive relationship can threaten a spouse’s mental state. In “Alice, Darling,” Anna Kendrick’s Alice is so stressed out by her artist boyfriend Simon’s (Charlie Carrick) abuse, that she starts to pull off parts of her hair. He doesn’t abuse her physically, but mentally with the C-word dropped in. Even when she goes on a trip with her friends-Tess (Kaniehtiio Horn) and Sophie (Wunmi Mosaku)-she’s still haunted by his choice of words and anger.
Never having seen a trailer for this movie, I didn’t know what to expect, other than the leading lady. I’m seeing Kendrick in a performance so complex, you actually feel her character’s stress and unhappiness. As you begin to watch it, you start to see Alice tying her finger with her hair, and making it turn purple. And you wonder why she is doing that to her fingers. You also wonder why she’s pulling her hair out. She doesn’t have cancer, but rather, it’s how her current situation is turning out.
It’s Tess’ birthday, and she and Sophie invite Alice for a birthday weekend. It might be good for her, too, which is why she lies to her boyfriend about what’s she’s doing and where she’s going. But she’s still unhappy.
The sappiness has to happen when Tess is accused of thinking of herself, when she’s trying to make sure Alice isn’t acting like a miserable sad sack. Especially when she doesn’t join them for a little kayak trip. But Horn and Mosaku both have value and commitment to their characters, who are willing to help their friend through her nightmares.
The reason she doesn’t go on that kayak trip is because Alice joins a search party to find a missing teenager, which helps her get through her drama. Do they find the girl? I can’t say, but something about the situation gets Alice thinking. It even sends her inside the missing girl’s home, where she takes a book.
When the boyfriend finally shows up, we, the audience, begin to ponder on what will happen next. If you ask me, and I am a guy, the women here are stronger than this abusive prick, who seems too weak and drops that C-word like he can’t think of a good comeback. It’s Alice who should have the comeback, not him.
Women are people, too, and they deserve to speak their mind, just as the men do. If they don’t, then we can’t support them. We want to listen to them, we want to acknowledge them. The two friends in “Alice, Darling” want Alice to speak, and they want to listen and acknowledge her. And believe me, when they all end up in the same shot as the bully, it really shows their strong womanhood.
Director Mary Nighy (Bill Nighy’s daughter) makes her movie directorial debut with the right leading lady-memorably portrayed by Kendrick. And she doesn’t use her to sell the film. She may be on the poster, and I may not have heard about the other actresses before, but they still provide enough support and courage. “Alice, Darling” knows how to express the emotions and sadness, unlike “The Son,” which was too depressing and cynical for us to really support. Kendrick is miles ahead of Zen McGrath’s sad sack in every way.
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