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Toronto Review: ‘Alice, Darling’ Directed By Mary Nighy And Starring Anna Kendrick – Deadline

Alice, Darling

‘Alice, Darling’ Lionsgate

Alice, Darling follows an abuse victim as she comes to terms with the end of her relationship. The script was written by  Alanna Francis and directed by Mary Nighy. The film stars Anna Kendrick, Kaniehtiio Horn, Wunmi Mosaku and Charlie Carrick.

Alice (Kendrick) has two besties, Tess (Horn) and Sophie (Mosaku). They are a tight trifecta, each at different points in their lives and careers. She is the only one with a boyfriend, Simon (Carrick). When the three friends get together, Alice dissociates because she’s often thinking about her boyfriend, but not in a loving way — more in a “he occupies my mind by force, and it depresses me.” You can tell this woman is dealing with some serious psychological abuse from her partner. She’s rail-thin as he encourages her disordered eating, has trichotillomania (the urge to pull out hair), and cries at the drop of a hat, and her friends are beginning to notice.

The trio go on a weeklong vacation trip, and at first Alice is apprehensive, and eventually agrees to go after lying to Simon about it. He’s been encouraging her to get rid of her friends. That thought is sinking deep into her psyche to the point she’s subconsciously destroying her relationships. To get Alice to live in the moment, Tess takes away her phone. Not having to answer her boyfriend’s constant text messages opens a floodgate of feelings, and she uses this vacation to begin recovering from trauma.

The manipulation, deception and gaslighting in Alice, Darling are off the charts. Simon is obsessive to the point where he wouldn’t let his girlfriend be gone for a week without interrupting her hangout plans and making everyone uncomfortable. Nighy’s direction succinctly captures those type of stilted moments. The director gets up close and personal to show the viewer how he abuses her in real-time and it is jarring: he rotates between insulting her and love-bombing her in under 60 seconds. That type of thing messes with your head.

Kendrick, Horn and Mosaku are an electric trio. They bounce off of one another effortlessly, sharing a three-dimensional bond that reverberates throughout the film. It leaps off the screen.

Alice, Darling is all about character and examining interior thought and how that manifests outward when negative and harmful thoughts are kept inside. These ideas turn on you, making you think what’s happening is your fault. The point of Francis’ script wasn’t to create a film about victims and abusers — it’s about addressing your fears and utilizing your support system to do so. Not all abuse shows physical bruises or scars. Some things just hurt mentally.

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