Anna Kendrick excels as the titular and troubled protagonist in Alice, Darling, a psychological drama that is marvelously put together, and touches on complicated relationships. Alanna Francis’s free-flowing script combines with Mary Nighy’s capable direction to produce an engaging film from the opening scene to the end credits. The few negatives are swallowed up by excellent performances by a cast that is small in number, but mighty in presence.
Alice (Kendrick) finds herself conflicted with her friends, her boyfriend, and herself. She has put a lot of pressure on herself to find the right balance in her life. But instead of becoming happy, she becomes so frustrated that she literally pulls her hair out. She has moments of course. Her charming boyfriend, Simon (Charlie Carrick), comes across as considerate and adoring. Her friends, Sophie (Wunmi Mosaku) and Tess (Kaniehtiio Horn), take her out to socialize and invite her to get away from her stress. She often gets alone with her thoughts. But as she strives to be as perfect a person as she can, she falls short. Where does her despair come from? Why does she struggle so much? Is it an outward struggle, an inward one, or perhaps both? She decides to take her friends’ offer to spend a week at a country cottage, but that means she has to lie to Simon. As a result, Sophie and Tess learn more about just how burdensome her relationship is, and that it may have crossed the line into abuse.
The are no poor performances to find in this production. The cast is terrific, with Kendrick leaving no stone unturned in bringing her conflicted character to light. The audience becomes well aware of her character’s traits and feels like it knows her rather well by film’s end. This must be one of Kendrick’s best performances. Carrick gives a tremendous performance as well. He makes his character likeable enough, though it’s clear one cannot root for his character for long. The moments of tension are palpable, and there is plenty of analysis one can make about each of the characters, which means that the filmmakers did their job well. The story is extremely relatable, as it provides insight into the nature of second-guessing, destructive relationships, strained friendships, inner reflection, and the reality and consequences of human error, pressure, and devotion. So many themes are identifiable for viewers as they, or someone they know, recognize these issues which greatly impact their lives. This cinematic work provokes reflection, and it does it remarkably well.
Anytime a film reaches into the world of realistic drama, it is only natural to try to look for things that don’t fit.
There are very few in this story, aside from questionable reactions during an inevitable confrontation. Still, the credibility of the characters on the whole quickly erase any small inconsistencies, and Alice, Darling, instead, makes audiences ponder what they would do if they were to find themselves in a similar situation, or to compare their own actions if they are already have. This drama provides an interesting and relatable story and does so thoughtfully, with a fantastic effort by the whole cast and crew.