Saturday, February 11, 2023

Alice, Darling (2022)

I was genuinely surprised how thoroughly Mary Nighy's directorial debut connected with me.

Fundamentally this is a film about female friendship, and a rather specific urban, North American form of it, so I might have rather churlishly concluded that it is "not for me", but it is just such a clever confection that I was riveted.

Nighy (Bill's daughter) did not write the screenplay herself, and that turned out to be another surprise, because so much of what makes this work is the balance between the said and the unsaid and I cannot imagine anyone would have been all that excited by the words on the page alone. 

Anna Kendrick plays a young woman we are not meant to immediately warm to. Gradually we start to realise that her personality on screen reflects the distorting impact of another character, her smarmy, controlling, artist boyfriend Simon. Alice is in a sense possessed by him, and her alone time is measured by the beeps of his checkings in, by her attempts to be pleasing to him, even at a distance.

Simon's variety of hegemony is enforced by the kind of non-verbal, procedural violence that leaves no visible harm, beyond that which the oppressed inflict on themselves.

Only as the story evolves do we come to appreciate this more directly, and even then Alice remains someone who is never entirely sure from one moment to the next whether she is a victim or her "life partner's" co-perpetrator.

Her pair of increasingly concerned old friends, played by Wunmi Mosaku and Kaniehtiio Horn also deliver a masterclass in body language. 





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