Wednesday, January 18, 2023

'Alice, Darling' shows the impact of abuse


Alice, Darling -- a psychological study bolstered by thriller elements -- relies on the observation that not all abuse is physical. The story centers on Alice (Anna Kendrick), a successful young woman who lives with her boyfriend, an artist played by Charlie Carrick. The two appear to be happy, but Carrick's Simon continually gnaws at Alice’s confidence. The plot, such as it is, begins to unfold  when Alice agrees to spend a weekend with two girlfriends (Kaniehtiio Horn and Wunmi Mosaku). The occasion: Horn's Tess has arranged a women-only celebration of her birthday at an isolated cabin. Alice tells Simon she's taking a business trip because she knows he’d object to her spending time with women who will encourage her independence. Kendrick captures Alice's ably fears, which limit her willingness to make her own decisions. Her friends try to loosen her up, but she's still under Simon's control. Director Mary Nighy creates a mood of uneasiness as Horn and Mosaku push Alice toward assertion. They know their friend is being tyrannized. The story's final eruption verges on overstatement  — and at times, the movie seems to be straining, particularly with a story about a missing local girl that lingers in the background. Working from a screenplay by Alanna FrancisAlice, Darling works best as a well-observed study of the effects of abuse, and Kendrick’s complex performance as a vacillating, conflicted woman gives Alice, Darling some painfully real bite.

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