In the picture

October 16, 2022

The new Netflix mystery thriller Luckiest Girl Alive throws a miniseries worth of ideas into a lacklustre movie.

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Luckiest Girl Alive☆☆

Starring: Mila Kunis, Finn Wittrock, Scoot McNairy, Thomas Barbusca, Jennifer Beals, and Connie Britton

Directed by: Mike Barker

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he massive success of the terrific Gone Girl adaptation inspired Hollywood to seek out novels with similar vibes – everything from The Girl on the Train to The Woman in the Window – and churn out more mystery thrillers driven by unlikable, unreliable female protagonists (to the point that the genre even led to the parody series The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window). But none of its successors have come even close to reaching the heights of Gillian Flynn’s deliciously wicked twists.

Luckiest Girl Alive, the latest in this line of projects that seek to unravel mysteries and process traumas, similarly falls short of delivering compelling drama, despite having a few intriguing pieces at play.

The protagonist here is Ani (Mila Kunis), an ambitious chameleon who has excelled at climbing the social ladder. She has a glamorous (albeit not entirely fulfilling) job as a writer for a women’s magazine, and is marrying into a wealthy family, with her wedding to loving fiance Luke (Finn Wittrock) just around the corner. But underneath her polished façade lies a woman who is still haunted by incidents from her youth.

As she struggles to deal with the traumatic events from her past, old wounds are opened with the production of a documentary about a tragedy that has left people wondering if she’s a hero or a villain. That, alongside the success of someone with whom she has a complicated history, leaves Ani facing the choice to either maintain her decades-long silence or finally speak her truth.

There is serious, sensitive subject matter at the film’s core and some potentially compelling societal commentary weaved into the narrative, but with too many different arcs and ideas thrown rather unsubtly into the mix, the result ends up being more incohesive and dull than interesting or intriguing. The weak writing (the screenplay is by Jessica Knoll and based on her 2015 novel of the same name) doesn’t help either, and neither does the very staid voiceover narration that just makes you wonder if you’re watching a parody. (Also, there is disturbing content here that some viewers might find triggering, so proceed with caution.)

The film gives you no reason to care about any of its characters, and the performances by the cast are serviceable at best. Turns out there isn’t much that even the likes of Connie Britton (who plays Ani’s overcritical mother) can do with characters this one-dimensional.

Overall, from its lacklustre beginning to a supposedly empowering but altogether unsatisfying ending, Luckiest Girl Alive doesn’t offer much in terms of suspense or depth. With better writing and a significantly sharper execution, the movie could have done something more impactful with the topics at its centre and left the audience with something to think about.

Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection



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