From the very first scene, it is clear to us that something is bothering the title character of Mary Nighy’s debut feature film The Englishwoman. Alice (Anna Kendrick) is under water and seems to be sinking, and in a psychological drama/thriller in which I lacked at least an iota of subtlety, this is clearly a metaphor for her physical condition. She is supposed to meet her two best friends, Sophie (Wunmi Mosaku) and Tess (Kaniehtiio Horn) at a restaurant, but her thoughts are elsewhere. She pulls out her hair, inflicts physical pain on herself, is nervous, almost psychotic, and it’s obvious that she’s hiding something from her friends, with whom she arranges to go on a trip on the occasion of one of their birthdays.
We soon understand what is going on under the surface and under the forced smile because Alice is in a relationship with a guy namely Simon (Charlie Carrick), a pretentious English painter who is apparently at least an emotional, if not a physical, abuser. And no matter how much Alice tries to convince herself that their relationship is healthy and good, it is completely obvious from her behavior that it is falling apart. That she is mentally on edge, that she has been manipulated, that she lives under constant emotional blackmail, guilt and chaos that she doesn’t know how to extricate herself from. We don’t know how this apparently at least averagely intelligent urban 30-year-old woman allowed herself to be put in such a situation and why she doesn’t just fuck the jerk. But we know very quickly that she really feels like she’s sinking and doesn’t dare to tell anyone what’s really happening to her,
Well, when the viewer realizes practically in the first scene that something is wrong with this young woman, how can her best friends not, who, admittedly, will take some time to connect that something bad is happening there. It is clear to them that Alice’s attitude towards them has changed and that she is a completely different person, but Alice seems to have managed to convince herself that her relationship is something normal, natural and healthy, although it is obvious that it is far from that. Perhaps I lacked a little subtlety in this poignant and emotional drama / thriller, but obviously the author’s intention was to immediately throw the cards on the table and explicitly show the state in which the protagonist is. All the same, even so, “Alice, Darling” was a solid story about what such an unhealthy relationship can look like and what one’s life can turn into if one completely surrenders to an egoistic manipulator who thinks only of himself.