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Photo: ‘Alice, Darling’
Anna Kendrick has been well-known for playing quirky characters and for playing a hopeless romantic in rom-coms who gets herself in uncomfortable situations in order for her character to find true love. She earned her stardom by playing Bella’s friend Jessica in ‘Twilight,’ and she has often reappeared in other ‘Twilight Films.’ After that, she received other film roles and eventually starred with George Clooney and Vera Farmiga in the movie ‘Up in the Air,’ and received her Oscar nomination for the supporting character of Natalie Keener, a woman who fires people over the internet while Clooney played as the protagonist who fires them in person. However, she still ended up playing rom-com roles in movies such as ‘Pitch Perfect’ where she played Beca. However, Mary Nighy’s powerful directorial debut ‘Alice, Darling’ will make executive producers think twice about casting Anna Kendrick in romantic comedies. In these contemporary times, it is crucial for even the pretty actress to break off the typecasting style and explore different roles that will surprise their fans. The actress plays the title character who is internally frail and emotionally abused in a dysfunctional relationship with her boyfriend Simon (played by Charlie Carrick).
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‘Alice, Darling’ – Plot and Premise
Anna Kendrick’s character Alice is shown as the victim of an abusive relationship with her boyfriend. However, she has a huge silver lining to having two best friends, Sophie (played by Wunmi Mosaku) and Tess (played by Kaniehtiio Horn), who could show her a life without Simon. As the film continues, we see Alice trying to do her best to cope with her unfortunate scenario. As she gets internally damaged, we see her external coping mechanisms: she pulls strands of her own hair and winds them tightly around her index finger. She even makes sure that she doesn’t consume as much food as possible so she can continue to maintain the same weight because of Simon’s influence. She can’t tell anyone about her abusive relationship because she feels very protective of her boyfriend. Sophie and Tess at one point invite Alice to spend the weekend at Sophie’s cottage. This causes Alice to lie to Simon by disinforming him that she is going on a trip that is related to work. As a matter of fact, she has to rehearse the lie over and over again to not only convince him, but she has to convince herself. She even experiences triggers from Simon’s abuse by simply receiving his text messages from her cell phone. Whenever the phone dings with Simon’s text message, this makes Alice uncomfortable.
What’s even more fascinating is how though it’s been only a few days into the trip, Alice and Tess get into an argument that makes them question their friendship. This makes Sophie take drastic measures by hiding Alice’s phone in order for them to focus on each other. This is important because the two best friends realize what the audience has been knowing the entire time. Their best friend Alice is the prisoner of her love of a dysfunctional boyfriend.
However, when the stakes are not raised for Alice as she is enjoying her company with her two friends, she has the freedom to express herself by eating the sugary sweets she desires and consuming some alcohol for Tess’ birthday party.
The Film’s Merits
The director does a good job of having the film be ambiguous about the story’s exposition rather than explaining. There has been the usage of short flashbacks which will make the viewer interested in Simon and how cruel he is and how it is perfectly intercutting to show the present-day aftermath of Alice’s psyche. The film emphasizes minimalism. The story takes place in a quiet town where it seems that everyone knows everyone else, which seems very Twin Peaks-esque. There is a moment in the story when the protagonist goes to a convenience store and looks at a poster for a missing girl. This is important because it shows that even friendship will help a victim of abuse to picture a life without the abusive partner. This makes Alice ignore her own personal problem and attempt to focus on someone else. She even joined a search party so she can feel the holistic experience of what it is like to be a part of a good company that is aware of a missing teen.
One of the fascinating things to see is how her friends Sophie and Tess are not aware of the internal struggles that Alice is facing. As viewers who have seen Alice’s awful communications with Simon, they are begging for them to figure her out.
The story’s pacing is done well with tense conversations, and they are emphasized with Owen Pallet’s score. The composer has done a splendid job of keeping the audience tense as well as foreshadowing Alice’s predicaments and torments that are caused by Simon.
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Anna Kendrick certainly delivers an intense performance that will surprise her fans as well as have some (ed. note: sentence needs to be rewritten). The film creates awareness of how a woman is getting abused. The film does a good job of building tension and suspense for its audience on what is going to happen to Alice. Simon is a good example of a gaslighting and abusive antagonist that will stop at nothing to control Alice. Sophie and Tess are two supporting characters that help Alice to get in touch with her sanity by showing her love. The film makes light of gaslighting since young people are clearly becoming the victims of it. Distance from the abuser will help a young person to gain perspective about how toxic the other person can be. I certainly hope to see more diverse roles for Anna Kendrick since she did a splendid job of playing a victim of a dysfunctional relationship instead of a hopeless romantic who yearns for true love.
By Marco Castaneda
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