Anna Kendrick captures the anxious psychology of a woman in an abusive relationship as her friends try to reconnect with her while on a cottage getaway.
Alice (Anna Kendrick) is an anxious person and no one is sure why. When she’s invited on a cottage trip to celebrate her friend’s birthday, she feels like she has to lie to her charming and successful boyfriend, Simon (Charlie Carrick), telling him that it’s a very important business trip.
Her longtime friends, played by Kaniehtiio Horn (Letterkenny) and Wunmi Mosaku (Lovecraft Country) want Alice to enjoy their time together, but she just doesn’t seem present. With Simon continuously texting her, it becomes clear that she’s being closely monitored by him and her phone turns into an overbearing conduit for emotional abuse. Once they realize what’s happening, Alice’s friends try to convince her that her relationship isn’t normal, but she continues to doubt herself, constantly modulating where she goes or what she eats, unable to disconnect from Simon, even though she knows she’s unhappy. As the weekend progresses, not only their friendship hangs in the balance, but also Alice’s safety. The women become entangled in a psychological tug-of-war with Simon, who continues his attempts at excising Alice from those closest to her.
Written by Alanna Francis, returning to the Festival after 2019’s The Rest of Us, and intelligently realized by Mary Nighy, Alice, Darling captures the apprehension and dread that haunt victims of domestic abuse. Nighy’s direction puts particular focus on the little details that serve as warning signs and, coupled with a meticulous performance from Kendrick, she creates a tense atmosphere that serves as a unique portrait of psychological manipulation and one young woman’s effort to overcome it.
Content advisory: themes of anxiety and mental distress