When art imitates a not-so-good life

When art imitates a not-so-good life

Luckiest Girl Alive borrows heavily from the headlines of the day

When art imitates a not-so-good life
Luckiest Girl Alive, now streaming on Netflix. (Photos © NETFLIX)

On the surface, it's easy to judge Luckiest Girl Alive as another movie made to support #Metoo and other movements. Sure, this new mystery/drama film is clearly trying to shed light on quite a few touchy subjects and heavy issues, whether it's school bullying, class conflict, sexual abuse or mass shootings. But more often than not, fiction is inspired by reality. And with gripping storytelling, good character design and development, Luckiest Girl Alive is definitely a thrilling watch. The film sees the return of actress Mila Kunis as a woman whose perfect life is corroded by her past trauma and emotional scars. The film provides the audience an insight into the complicated reality of how survivors and victims endure on a daily basis.

Based on the bestselling mystery novel of the same name by Jessica Knoll, Luckiest Girl Alive centres on Ani Fanelli (Kunis), a sharp-tongued New Yorker who appears to have everything in her life under control -- a luxury lifestyle, a sought-after position at a glossy magazine, and a dream wedding with a wealthy fiance on the horizon. But when the director of a crime documentary invites Ani to tell her side of a shocking and tragic incident that took place when she was a teenager at a prestigious high school, Ani has to decide if she should confront a dark truth that threatens to unravel her ultra-carefully crafted life.

The story is told in two different timelines, one in the present as we watch Kunis as an adult Ani who's living the perfect life with her wealthy fiance Luke (Finn Wittrock). The other timeline follows actress Chiara Aurelia who plays a younger Ani at a prestigious prep school. The editing between the two lines reveals a plot of pain and trauma in mysterious ways. This character development is also well done. The script compels you to delve into the Ani character as there are resonant questions concerning her past.

Mila Kunis as Ani Fanelli. 

Both actresses do a wonderful job in portraying Ani at different stages of life, with brilliant dialogue (both spoken and narrated). Kunis' version of Ani isn't likeable. She comes across at times very temperamental, spoiled and even mischievous. While it's hard to sympathise or even feel any compassion towards the character, as the story unfolds it becomes understandable why she reacts and protects herself in the way that she does. There are flashbacks of the horrors that happened to Ani which are shown to us in quite fairly graphic detail. Those scenes are harrowing and can be difficult to watch. However, Aurelia is the one to emote and act through those dreadful and horrifying sequences. And how she's able to portray the character is what really stands out to me. It was definitely a powerful performance by Aurelia, and I'm now looking forward to seeing more of her movie roles in the future.

Luckiest Girl Alive is a mystery/drama that is traumatic and frustrating. This is a real look at the consequences of horrific moments wrapped up in a well-crafted movie. The film's message is the movie and it makes no attempt to hide that, though some of the sequences are difficult to watch at times. But with great storytelling and exceptional performances from both Kunis and Aurelia, it is definitely a film worth watching.

  • Luckiest Girl Alive
  • Starring Mila Kunis, Chiara Aurelia, Finn Wittrock
  • Directed by Mike Barker
  • Now streaming on Netflix
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