Dramas about survivors of physical abuse mostly follow a specific approach to the central character. Mila Kunis starrer Luckiest Girl Alive manages to be a slightly different movie in that space as it analyzes the character from a really personal space. Although the blend of the fun side and the trauma around that character reduces the sort of impact it could have achieved, there is enough juice in this drama from Mike Barker to sit through it.
TifAni Fanelli, aka Ani, is a journalist who is forced to write titillating stuff for her magazine. Even though she doesn’t like that aspect of her job, she considers that job a necessity for future possibilities. There is a past to Ani where she was a witness in a school mass shooting that happened back in 1999. A popular narrative puts her in a bad light for that event which took many lives. The impact of that whole incident on Ani’s life and her search for vindication is what we witness in Luckiest Girl Alive.
An outspoken character with a history of mental trauma is fascinating from an exploration point of view. Luckiest Girl Alive gives us a first-person perspective in its narrative. Mike Barker introduces us to Ani in a very jovial way, and one might even wonder whether the movie is about the idiosyncrasies of that character. But the flashback track that shows us the baggage Ani carries slowly starts to create an intense ambiance. We gradually realize that what we felt as a quirk of that character has a connection with her experiences.
The script written by Jessica Knoll is impressive in the beginning parts as it clearly wins in getting our attention. And even when the movie approaches the dark phase in Ani’s past, the trauma of that scenario is presented in a very affecting way. What happened with Ani and how she got judged by a majority is a clear case of mob injustice. But the steps towards Ani getting her vindication demanded a lot more intensity. While making love, Ani became uncomfortable as the gentle approach wasn’t working for her, and that was something that should have haunted the viewer. In establishing her helplessness and showing her empowerment, the film can’t achieve that dramatic high one would anticipate.
Mila Kunis was wonderful in being Ani. The version of TifAni she plays has the outlook of a chilled-out person who wants to achieve more but hasn’t really managed to move on from the horrific thing that happened to her. And she managed to show all that in her performance. Chiara Aurelia played the younger version of Ani, and her performance was incredibly moving.
The characterization of Dean Barton in this movie takes a dig at how people blindly fall for certain narratives soaked in sentiments. The contrasting emotional tone of the past and present looks interesting for sure as it moves away from the sulking style we usually see. But somewhere, because of that, I feel this film was finding it a bit difficult to be a moving tale about an empowered woman.
Although the blend of the fun side and the trauma around that character reduces the sort of impact it could have achieved, there is enough juice in this drama from Mike Barker to sit through it.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended