‘Alice Darling’ Is A Touching Portrayal Of Escaping Abuse And Finding Solace In Sisterhood


“It felt really distinct in that I had, frankly, seen a lot of movies about abusive or toxic relationships, and it didn’t really look like what was happening to me.” Since its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, lead actress Anna Kendrick has spoken openly about her personal connection to her new psychological thriller. In a career-best, Kendrick plays Alice, a seemingly normal woman with a seemingly normal boyfriend. Yet, with the circulation-cutting twist of hair around her finger or the never-ending texts that incessantly light up her phone screen, Alice’s fragile façade begins to crack. 

These cracks only begin to widen when Alice agrees to a birthday trip away with her best friends Sophie (Wunmi Mosaku) and Tess (Kaniehtiio Horn). Most people would be excited for a getaway and a chance to relax with friends, but things are rather the opposite for our heroine. Pushed to the point of panic attacks, Alice lies to her quietly threatening boyfriend Simon (Charlie Carrick) that she has been called away on a business trip. This lie lays the groundwork for the slow revelation of Alice’s true situation, a realisation that hits us at the same time it hits Alice. 

What was promised to be a fun girl’s trip away quickly divulges into a makeshift intervention after an erratic outburst from Alice. Acting as a glimpse into emotional abuse, at the crux of Mary Nighy’s directorial debut, is not just a warning about the little things that make up an abusive relationship but an emphasis on the importance of a solid support system for survivors. While their main purpose as characters is to help and care for Kendrick’s overwrought protagonist, Tess and Sophie are three-dimensional characters in their own right, carrying a warmth that sticks with you in the face of Simon’s looming shadow of abuse. 

The film is anchored by an almost flawless performance from Kendrick, who expertly conveys the skittish nature of a woman constrained. As well as Mosaku and Horn’s tender portrayal of female friendship, Carrick shines in his role as the remorseless tormentor. Working symbiotically, the secondary characters elevate Alice’s situation with an urgency that resonates with audiences to create a real and captivating portrayal of abuse. 

Despite its success when it comes to slowly building tension, Alice, Darling doesn’t leave much room for subtlety. This is perhaps best exemplified in the subplot of a missing girl whose story touches Alice so much that she joins a search party for her. Drawing clear parallels between Alice’s search for self and the missing girl, the storyline falls rather flat and feels more like an unwanted weight on the film’s back than a compelling plot device.

Nonetheless, Mary Nighy’s debut is a quietly devastating portrayal of emotional abuse and the importance of sisterhood. In conversation with People magazine, Kendrick described the making of the film as ‘incredibly cathartic’— her clear passion for the script is echoed in her brilliant performance. Favouring tension over cheap thrills, Alice, Darling is a portrait of escaping abuse and finding your feet in the arms of your friends.

Alice, Darling is out in cinemas now

by Amelia Brady

Amelia (she/her) is student living in London. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and relaxing with a good horror film. Her favourite films include Heathers, Scream, The Descent and Your Name. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.