Alice, Darling Review: Mind Trauma in this tense drama

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Alice, Darling sees Anna Kendrick silently screaming for help out of a toxic relationship

Alice, Darling is written by Alanna Francis and comes from Director Mary Nighy. It looks at the very timely and relevant issue of toxic/abusive relationships. While much time has been given to domestic violence both in film and in the news, domestic abuse doesn’t get as much attention as the lack of violence doesnt capture/shock our imaginations as much. The truth of the matter is there are many relationships which aren’t necessarily violent but can be just as if not more harmful as while scars can heal, psychological damage can be hidden and last a lifetime.

Alice, darling stars Anna Kendrick as ‘Alice’, a young lady who externally has things together in her life but just beneath the surface is seriously struggling with her relationship. Anna is better known for her comedic roles so this is a change of gears for her but it’s one she handles admirably. When comedic actors do dramas, there can be a temptation to go overboard and ‘overact’ but instead, she gives a subtle delicate performance. Even through her smiles we clearly see the signs of a fractured person.

There have been many films that have shown the horrors of domestic violence on the big screen. In contrast, Director Mary Nighy chose a different approach. Most of the abusive behaviour is hidden from us viewers, only shown partially in flashbacks and very short cut scenes. The idea of not making violence or abuse the showcase here was in my opinion, a positive move.

Alice, Darling. Photo Credit: Samantha Falco

The film focuses more on the psychological effects the abuse has had not just on Alice but also her close friends which i felt was an interesting angle. Victims of domestic abuse often live in a bubble of their abusers’ creation, so they only see the world from the point of view of their abuser or how they are personally suffering, while being oblivious to the wider impact on their family and friends.

Alice goes away for the weekend with her two friends Tess and Sophie (Kaniehtiio Horn and Wunmi Mosaku) to celebrate a 30th birthday. This break from ‘the real world’ provides a chance for these old friends to catch up and reconnect away from their regular lives. What becomes almost immediately apparent to Tess and Sophie is that things don’t seem right their friend. Alices’ change of behaviour and mannerisms alert them to this fact. This causes conflict amongst the friends as they argue with Alice, trying to help her realise, she is in an unhealthy situation.

The film has a certain still quiet quality but manages to maintain an eery sense of doom all the way through. Even when things are happy on screen, this feeling is still there, contributing to an overarching uncomfortable atmosphere. The relationship between Alice and her boyfriend Simon (Charlie Carrick) is intentionally shown as quite normal, at times leaving us questioning whether he is simply an over attentive boyfriend and Alice is suffering with some other mental health issues we are not yet aware of. But I believe making us initially suspect something is wrong woith Alice is part of the point.

Alice, Darling Review: Mind Trauma in this tense drama 1

Most Domestic abuse is quiet, reserved and certainly kept behind closed doors. To the rest of the world, the abuser will appear quite normal and even charming and nice. Most of the abuse then takes place at times when the abused person is at their most vulnerable. The movie does a great job of reflecting on these real situations. Not all domestics are big, loud and messy. Sometimes it occurs over several years, slowly chipping away at a person’s pride and confidence until they become a shell of their formal self, just managing to keep up appearances.

Anna Kendrick does a fantastic job of portraying a lady trying to maintain appearances while in reality she is mentally drowning. Her life jackets are the friends who refused to watch her suffer in silence. There is no big explosive finale in Alice, Darling, in fact its more of a reserved resolution which reflects many real-life cases of abuse. This is a quietly tense drama centred around long term trauma. Maybe lacking some of the flash and energy other films in the genre have but still producing a solid performance from Anna Kendrick.

Alice, Darling is in Cinemas now

View the trailer here

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