Luckiest Girl Alive REVIEW – A Tonal Mess

Mila Kunis reminds us what an acting force she is in this Netflix thriller.

Luckiest Girl Alive
Luckiest Girl Alive

I’m part of the club that believes Mila Kunis should have received a nomination for her performance in Black Swan. She’s always been a riveting, charismatic actress, so when I found out she would be the lead in Netflix’s Luckiest Girl Alive, I hoped that the material would allow her to shine. Unfortunately, the screenplay isn’t as well-developed as it needed to be, considering all the heavy themes it explores. Kunis delivers an impeccable performance, and is the best thing about this movie, but everything that surrounds her is a mess.

Kunis plays Ani, a writer at Women’s Bible. She’s engaged to be married to the wealthy and good-looking Luke (Finn Wittrock), her boss LoLo (the ever luminous Jennifer Beals) adores her, and she also has Nell (Justine Lupe), a supportive friend always by her side. Ani’s spent years crafting this perfect image for herself, this slender, successful woman worthy of marrying into a family like Luke’s.

The film surrounds Ani with mirrors and reflective surfaces, to symbolise how the interior does not match the exterior. The viewer is privy to Ani’s interior, since the narrative is guided by her acerbic, sarcastic commentary. No one is spared from the barbed wire of her tongue, only internally of course, though there is this one chef’s kiss moment in the film when the acid of her thoughts slips out into the open. On the outside, Ani plays the role of a wind-up doll, afraid that Luke will discover that she’s a fraud. Kunis is so good here, perfecting a physical mask of restraint to hide an interior marked with cracks.

As the film wears on, we’re cast into flashbacks of Ani’s younger days at Brentley, a private school. As a scholarship student, Ani (Chiara Aurelia) isn’t socially on the same level as her peers, so she’s flattered when the popular kids take an interest in her. Things take a dark turn, and Ani struggles to deal with what was done to her, especially when it’s downplayed by everyone around her. And the ones that don’t, like her friend Arthur (Thomas Barbusca), accuse her of compromising her dignity because she chooses silence.

These flashbacks to her past are heavy with the dark realities they contain, but the way they’re woven into the narrative feels random and sudden, as if their only purpose is to shock the viewer. The way some of these moments are staged also feel tonally confusing, at times coming across more like action movie than a drama.

The movie doesn’t accord much space to Ani’s relationships with Luke and Nell, which is a shame because Wittrock and Lupe are both compelling in the scenes we do get. The constant imagined moments of Ani stabbing Luke gives us insight into how she truly feels about him and their relationship, and while he seems to play the role of the perfect fiancé, underneath all that support is a desire to control her and their lives together. Nell is Luke’s opposite. Even though they both operate in the same social circles, Nell prioritises Ani and what she wants in their friendship, while Luke doesn’t.

Luckiest Girl Alive is too scattered to make an impact, but it’s certainly proof that Kunis is fantastic and needs to be in better movies.

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Luckiest Girl Alive
Luckiest Girl Alive is watchable only because of Mila Kunis, who does a stellar job of fleshing out her character.