Alice, Darling is a powerful directorial debut from Mary Nighy. Anna Kendrick stars as the title character, a woman whose seemingly perfect relationship hides psychological abuse. When she goes on vacation with her two close friends, Alice has a chance to reevaluate her life.
The charismatic Kendrick has shown off her comedic talents over the years. Here, she uses her real life experiences in an emotionally abusive relationship to showcase her rarely seen more dramatic side. She brings the emotional heft needed to the role. It is not long before the outwardly effervescent young woman shows her panicked and mentally disheveled true self. Kendrick pulls the audience into her frenzied world.
For his part, Charlie Carrick is menacing as boyfriend Simon. He is never physically abusive and instead uses words to manipulate and belittle Alice. It is frightening to witness and the effects on his girlfriend become more obvious as Alice, Darling progresses. His mix of dominating alpha male and needy man-child is disgusting to watch.
It is a well-written script that is less about telling a story and more about examining one woman’s tortured life. Along the way, Alice, Darling also looks at the importance of friendship. There is a subplot that does take away from the rest of the film, however. The camera does an uncomfortably good job. There are a number of close-ups that serve as a window into the trauma Alice is going through. The film is shot in a way that mirrors the state of its lead. Numerous times, the camera moves in a chaotic manner, as if it is trying to remain in control.
Alice, Darling shines a spotlight on a very important issue. Anna Kendrick gives a measured performance that will make all who watch feel for her. The story never plays it safe and can be a difficult watch, but it never exploits victims of abuse or its message.
Alice, Darling will be exclusively in AMC Theatres nationwide January 20.
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