Film Review - Alice, Darling (2023)
Content/Trigger Warning: This film review covers topics such as self-harm, psychological abuse and disordered eating. If any of these topics are triggering for you, you might want to skip this article and film. Please take care.
“Alice, Darling” stars Anna Kendrick as Alice, a young professional woman who goes on a girl’s trip with her two closest friends, Tess and Sophie, but the trip ends up taking an unexpected turn. From the start of the film you can see that Alice is under a lot of stress which manifests itself as nervousness, anxiety and self-harm (she constantly wraps her hair tightly around her fingers when she’s alone). Something is tormenting her internally but she’s tries to keep her composure in front of her friends while they’re out for drinks planning their getaway.
The next morning Alice is rehearsing what she’s going to say to her boyfriend Simon about a work trip she needs to take, when she’s actually going away with her friends. When she breaks the news to him about this “work trip” he initially questions why she has to go and he feels that she has more potential than what’s available at her job. He seems to be a caring and supportive partner. So why does Alice need to lie to him about going away with her friends? This is the first inkling we get that there’s something amiss in their relationship.
After Simon’s art gallery opening he’s disappointed that no “important people” showed up and his inner turmoil and self-doubt are clear. While his perfectionism is getting the best of him, something insidious is getting to Alice. Her hair playing escalates to hair pulling as she tears clumps of her hair out and rolls them into little balls tossed onto the bathroom floor.
On their girls trip Alice seems despondent and distracted. She mentions to her friends that she feels incredibly guilty for having a sexual dream about a waiter. Her friends don’t see it as a big deal and question why she’s being so hard on herself. Later on she’s having flashbacks about recent incidents with Simon that reveal he’s actually quite manipulative and controlling. Things start to unravel for Alice as she replays these abusive moments of her relationship in her mind. Her obsessive behaviours intensify as she ruminates on his manipulations. But also, the more time she spends with her friends, the more she returns to the person she was before Simon.
While making breakfast Sophie gently confronts Alice about her disordered eating and obsession with avoiding sugar and Alice gets defensive and her walls go up again. It’s not until she loses an earring that Simon gave her when everything she’s been keeping inside boils to the surface. Finally she’s able to share with her friends what’s really been happening in her relationship with Simon. But this isn’t the final hurdle she’s going to have to overcome before the story ends and it won’t be without the support of her friends.
“Alice, Darling” is a dark story about domestic violence, psychological abuse, disordered eating and self-harm. I think it does a good job of navigating how hard it can be for victims of domestic violence to reach out for help and how those victims typically blame themselves for the abuse. This story also shows how others can show up for the victim of abuse in a supportive and non-judgmental way. All three women in this film; Anna Kendrick, Wunmi Mosaku, and Kaniehtiio Horn, were fantastic. I really enjoyed the dynamic between their characters and love that this story highlights the importance of lifelong friendships.
“Alice, Darling” screens at the Rio Theatre starting Friday, February 10th. Tickets and info: https://riotheatre.ca