In 2022’s Alice, Darling, Anna Kendrick plays the titular character who’s emotionally abusive relationship with her boyfriend Simon (Charlie Carrick) comes to a head while she’s on a getaway with her girlfriends, Sophie (Wunmi Mosaku) and Tess (Kaniehtilo Horn). The girls’ friendship is put to the test, as Alice begins to come undone while coming to terms with what her life has become at the hands of her abuser.

This is probably Kendrick’s most powerful performance to date, as she navigates playing Alice as both a victim we feel sorry for, but also as someone who, at least at the beginning of the film, isn’t a very likable person. As Alice embarks on a week-long getaway with her best friends, we see the psychological abuse Simon has been using to manipulate her into being his “perfect” mate. We see the lengths that she goes to in the relationship to keep him happy and to make sure she’s never being “bad” in his eyes. She’s obsessive about how she looks, what she eats, and how she speaks –a compulsion that results in her pulling her hair out in private moments.

Alice, ashamed of what her life has become, hides the abuse from her friends, but it all comes to the surface while they’re spending time together in the confines of a remote lakefront cabin. Sophie, who tends to be the passive friend who tries to smooth things over, tries her best to keep things upbeat and positive, while Tess is more of an in-your-face character who eventually forces Alice to confess what’s been gong on in her life.

The bond between these three friends is relatable and potent from the very start of the film. And, as things progress, and Simon spontaneously shows up at the cabin, it’s friendship that unites them in order to finally break his hold over Alice. The final act in which Sophie and Tess stand on either side of Alice, literally placing themselves in harm’s way so that Simon can’t get to her, is the true testament of friendship.

Kendrick has revealed that the film was very important to her, since she herself had experienced psychological abuse during a recent relationship. This absolutely shows throughout the course of her performance, making it all the more unsettling to know that this was the type of situations she had to deal with in real life. The film itself is a powerful examination of the more subtle ways that people can experience abuse at the hands of a controlling loved one, and an even closer look at just how hard it is to break free from it.

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