‘It’s 2015, and people still act like marriage is some kind of crowing achievement for women...’
Mila Kunis has been in the news recently due to perceived hypocrisy about her support for convicted rapist Danny Masterson despite having appeared in a film that centres around a high school girl being raped. While I don’t want to get bogged down in that aspect of things too much, it would be odd not to mention it as that is surely what this film will now be defined by going forward. And that’s unfortunate for director Mike Barker and writer Jessica Knoll because this is a perfectly serviceable character-driven thriller…
Ani Fanelli (Kunis) has a lot going on. Too much quite frankly. She’s a survivor of both a horrific gang rape and a high school shooting. Her mom Dina (Connie Britton) is horrible. Her relationship with her fiance Luke (Finn Wittrock) is ill-defined and dysfunctional. Her only solace comes from her fabulous friend Nell (Succession‘s Justine Lupe).
Barker has made his career as a TV director and if I were being cruel, I would say that it shows. There is little visual flair here. That being said, the unshowy direction does allow the story to take centre stage but there are also issues in that area too. The You style voiceover is grating. The acting is uneven (Wittrock is particularly non-descript although in his defence his character has zero agency or personality). Kunis does a good job in what was probably an emotionally gruelling role but it feels like the script tries to pack too much in which leaves little time for any real character development. Despite this, I mostly enjoyed Luckiest Girl Alive. It is a captivating story despite its flaws and it’s hard not to get sucked in by such a sensationalist and unlikely tale.
Luckiest Girl Alive seems to be a film made with the best of intentions and in its better moments, it really sings. The issue is those moments are too few and far between. The film’s conclusion also feels like a huge missed opportunity to explore the consequences of when a woman goes public with a story of sexual abuse. A disjointed but still compelling movie.