It’s a chilling little film, avoiding maximalism at every turn, a bold debut from Nighy (whose only real slip-up is a score that can feel dull and uninspired) and a difficult reminder of a difficult experience. The chill will linger for a while.
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The role of Alice is very much internal and, as such, very reliant upon putting her thoughts onscreen. That we can also see those thoughts in our own minds simply through Kendrick’s thousand-yard stares, moments of lashing out, and visibly draining anxiety is a testament to her commitment to the character and the script’s nuanced complexity to allow her to say so much without saying anything.
One of the most absorbing parts of Alice, Darling is watching Alice, Sophie and Tess interact with each other throughout the weekend — to witness the frustrating moments of misunderstanding and the triumphant ones of clarity. Kendrick, Mosaku and Horn sustain a natural rapport, which makes investing in their friendship easy.
Anchored by Kendrick’s best performance in years and Francis’ incisive script, Alice, Darling is a visceral, deeply felt clarion call, not just for more awareness of the signs of emotional, intimate partner violence but also as a reminder to those who have experienced this abuse to allow themselves some grace.
Kendrick makes the case for why she belongs in more dramatic roles that allow her to shed her normally peppy usually cheery onscreen persona. We know how good she is, and we’d only love to see more.