In Alice, Darling, Alice (Anna Kendrick) is a hard-working woman in a committed relationship with Simon (Charlie Carrick). When she’s invited to join her friends for a weekend away at a cottage to celebrate her friend’s birthday, Alice becomes increasingly anxious about the trip. Nevertheless, her friends, Tess and Sophie (Kaniehtiio Horn and Wunmi Mosaku) insist and she decides to join them. Even though the weather is beautiful and the scenery stunning, Alice struggles to feel present and she constantly checks her phone from messages from her man. As Alice’s secrets are revealed, her friends try to help her disconnect from the harmfulness that awaits her at home.
Directed by Mary Nighy, Alice, Darling is a challenging piece that helps provide a broader definition of the nature of ‘hurt’. Although the film features some strong performances by its entire past, especially from Mosaku and Horn, what makes the film most engaging is a particularly strong performance by Kendrick. As the titular Alice, Kendrick provides a particularly nuanced performance that balances between inner struggle and outward appearances. In some strong work, Kendrick shows her range and skill as Alice’s pain slowly gains control.
And this is very much a film about control.
Although Alice argues that her boyfriend is ‘never hurt her’, the viewers sees the poisonous effects of their relationship and the ways that it drains a piece of her soul. Through casual jabs that are designed to undermine her confidence, Simon remains fully in control of the relationship and Alice. Here, the hurt that he inflicts is neither physical nor verbal but consistent by way of the shame he inflicts upon her. The damage here is difficult to quantify yet also difficult to watch. Even so, there’s a heartbeat of hope within Alice, Darling, even in its darkest of moments. While the pain of abuse can be overwhelming, so too can it also be overcome with love and support from those who know us best.
Alice, Darling is currently playing at TIFF ’22. For screening information, click here.