Starring: Anna Kendrick, Kaniehtiio Horn, Wunmi Mosaku, and Charlie Carrick
Director: Mary Nighy
Alice, Darling isn’t a particularly easy or entertaining watch, as Alice’s (Anna Kendrick) anxieties permeate the entire 90-minute runtime; however, that is more of a testament to Kendrick’s great performance than a complaint about the movie. She is perfectly cast, displaying a level of depth, vulnerability, and nuance that we haven’t witnessed from her before, all while portraying a character-type that I’m sure many of us have known in real life. That said, the film isn’t perfect. It’s minimalistically slow at parts, and more insight into the toxic relationship would have been nice. It’s still good, but for a certain type of film fan.
Alice, Darling likely would not work at all were it not for Anna Kendrick in the lead role. Her performance is the exact blend of innocence and fragility that the role calls for. You truly feel for her character, and it makes for a very uncomfortable watch at times. Aside from her performance, there’s not really much there. The commentary on power dynamics is clear, but you don’t fully get to see that at play. It’s as if the film censored itself a little, which actually does a disservice to its message. There was some potential, but unfortunately, the film was unable to achieve it.
While its heart is in the right place, Alice, Darling can’t cobble together a cohesive enough story to satisfy its thematic mission. Representing emotionally abusive or controlling relationships rather than physically abusive ones is tricky, to be sure, but this film fails to use its greatest tools to their full effect. Anna Kendrick is doing what she can on a bare-bones script, but the audience doesn’t spend enough time with either her friends or her abusive partner to be invested in Alice's (Kendrick) escape from the relationship or her friends' attempts to rescue her from it. All in all, this film is a miss.
In Alice, Darling, Anna Kendrick leaves behind her usually bubbly personality for a more emotional and vulnerable performance that truly brings all of Alice’s anxieties to life. It’s a role that may be a career best for her, and it’s also the film's biggest strength. Throughout this character-driven drama, I could feel the emotional weight of Alice's trauma rising to the surface. That said, I never felt fully immersed in the story, one that attempts to depict the realities of an unhealthy relationship and the fear of trying to escape it.