Alice Darling Review: Nervous Anna Kendrick Plays a Woman Trapped in an Abusive Relationship

What normally comes to mind when the term “thriller” is used to describe a movie? A robbery of some sort? Car Pursuit? Murder? Possibly some screaming matches for good measure? All of these are simple and easy methods that thrillers tell the audience that what they are witnessing is intended to increase their feeling of anxiety.

Okay, how about a gallery opening, a trip to the cottage with pals, or a quick bakery run? The top-notch drama Alice, Darling starring Anna Kendrick transforms these banal incidents into a heart-pounding and sad viewing experience.

Alice, Darling is a variety of things, directed by Mary Nighy (in her feature film directing debut) and written by Alanna Francis with an inexpensive and fluid narrative.

It examines friendship, the burden of cultural standards, and the overpowering and silent strength of platonic love. But mostly, it is a detailed examination of domestic violence and the myriad ways its effects manifest in its survivors.

The Oscar and Tony-nominated Kendrick portrays the charming Alice, a type A, hard-working, and an extremely put-together woman whose smile is only on the surface.


She harbors great anxiety, uncertainty, panic, and shame as a result of her poisonous relationship with Simon (Charlie Carrick), her verbally and emotionally abusive lover. In the first scene, when Alice goes out for drinks with her best friend Tess (Kaniehttio Horn) and Sophie, the tension begins to slowly build (Wunmi Mosaku).

This night out with friends is obviously intended as a respite from everyone’s hectic schedules, but we immediately discover that Alice can never fully leave her terrible relationship.

As her blood pressure rises, she compulsively wraps her hair around her index finger until it turns crimson, a practice that has been both a source of comfort and a source of embarrassment for her.

alice darling review
Alice darling review

A character like Alice, who is so psychologically absent and distracted even when she is physically present, is tough to portray realistically and without melodrama, yet Kendrick does so with ease.

As soon as she enters the restaurant, she “burdens” her companions with a smile and a cheerful demeanor so as not to burden them with her painful reality.

Her response to the piercing sound of Simon’s text message alert is a nuanced mix of dread and humiliation. Alice’s body language and stillness reveal a great deal about what she is experiencing, and as the dynamics and environmental change, so does she.

Alice’s anxiousness skyrockets when Tess and Sophie propose celebrating Tess’s birthday in a secluded location at Sophie’s cottage. Her mind begins to spin as she considers the various justifications she may give Simon, who will not be pleased that she is abandoning him for so long (or at all).

On the surface, their conversation and exchanges are amicable. Due to the scene’s cinematography and Kendrick and Carrick’s astute handling of it, it feels like it was plucked from the sweet spot of a romantic comedy when the pair is still in the honeymoon phase. However, it becomes one of the most difficult sights to digest in a matter of seconds.

Alice enters a trance while rehearsing the many ways she can delicately broach the topic of her upcoming vacation while Simon is in the pastry store. This little yet heartbreaking glimpse into her reality establishes the tone. Despite the genuineness of the entire video, Alice’s relationship with Tess and Sophie is particularly amazing.

The film provides one of the most genuine pictures of friendship, never relying on cliches or compromising character differentiation for the sake of the plot.

Alanna Francis’s ability to design and portray a three-way interaction that seems lived-in and worn, like your favorite pair of shoes that have seen it all, is evidenced by the fact that Sophie and Tess do not fit into cliched “friend” stereotypical categories.

This makes them acutely aware of even the slightest change in one another’s behavior, a clear indication of how well they know one another.

Naturally, their connection as friends and performers is cemented by their chats over drinks, which include references to their extensive past. Occasionally, the scene is defined solely by Alice’s uneasy demeanor as she sits on the edge of the hot tub, purposefully away from the excitement.

This film takes numerous narrative risks that pay off and complement one another in surprising ways. Rather than Simon, Alice’s interactions with Tess and Sophie create the most tension, which is a very intriguing fact.

We are anticipating Tess and Sophie’s reactions to Alice’s energy, and not necessarily Simon’s (despite his constant presence, he is not as physically present on screen as one might expect). Throughout a substantial period of the film, Alice’s friends are unaware of how poor (if any) her relationship is, leading them to believe that she isn’t interested in the trip because she has grown distant from them.

When Sophie and Alice cook cinnamon rolls and when Tess forces a reluctant Alice to paddleboard, for instance, there is a great deal of tension and suspense at the cabin.

As the audience, we are saddened by any conflict between Alice and her friends, as we are aware of the true causes of her shift in conduct. It is evident that Alice cannot relax and does not believe she deserves to.


The film is visually spectacular, both in terms of location and aesthetics. The cutaways to the lived-in cottage and Nighy’s willingness to take her time and observe the friends’ low-key bonding activities evoke a sense of familiarity and capture the desired tone effectively. As previously alluded to, one-on-one interactions with Alice and Simon are utilized deliberately and rarely.

The video informs viewers that her fear does not diminish when she is away from him, despite the fact that this may occasionally feel unusual. In fact, the situation worsens. However, Horn and Mosaku’s characters play crucial and motivating parts in Alice’s attempts to rediscover who she truly is.

Alice, Darling is a bold and forceful move forward in Anna Kendrick’s career that allows her to demonstrate the variety we knew she possessed, but perhaps hadn’t had the opportunity to fully explore until now.

This intimate, tonally-challenging film serves as the ideal prelude to Kendrick’s forthcoming directorial debut, the crime drama The Dating Game, in which she also acts. Alice, Darling is the type of film that stays with you long after the end credits. And perhaps motivate you to cook a sandwich for your friend.

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