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Luckyest Girl Alive review – a gripping mystery with sobering moments of reality

October 7, 2022

This review of the Netflix movie Luckyest Girl Alive contains no spoilers.

The luckiest girl in the world hit the streaming waves on netflix. The punch and New York Times The adaptation of the best-selling book stays true to form, keeping the mix of quality storytelling with scenes of utter horror that many may find quick feelings of unease with buried memories. Many may find this a strange and polarizing mix given the recent trend of gun violence in our schools. Even the much talked about rape scenes that are graphic in the film. Yet the story is told with such consummate grace that it is perhaps one of the most entertaining and heartbreaking entertainment in years. And who are we to judge a film by someone who was inspired by their own experience? The result is a haunting but uninhibited metaphor for the effects of sexual assault and even victimization.

The luckiest girl in the world follows Ani (a great Mila Kunis), a writer from New York who seems to have a perfect life. She has a job at a major magazine where her editor Lolo (Jennifer Beals) thinks she’s a rising star whose writing is “second to none” for the rest. Ani is also engaged to a bachelor, Luke (finn wittrock), who comes from a wealthy family and awaits him in a high-level position in finance in London, much to the delight of his mother (played by Connie Britton). She’s so image conscious that she won’t eat a slice of pizza in front of her fiancé unless he leaves the table. And then she blames the waiter for spilling a drink on them, causing the food to be thrown away.

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Ani has perfectly crafted her image and her life in a way that gives full control. Unfortunately, she has a secret that she keeps from most people that is about to become known. She has a choice to make: follow Luke to London or continue to occupy the job of her dreams in The New York Times. However, his secret will be exposed by an insincere real crime boss (Dalmar Abuzeid). You see, Ani was called TifAni. She is one of the few survivors of the worst school shooting in US history.

One of the victims, a boy named Dean, accused her of being one of the conspirators. Why would he do that? Because he was one of three teenagers who had raped TifAni at a party a few days before. She reported the assault to her favorite teacher (Scoot McNairy) but is too ashamed and scared to pursue it. So that raises the question of whether Ani/TifAni had anything to do with the shooting.

This film was directed by Mike Barker, a longtime television producer and director of series such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Fargo, and Broadchurch. He’s making his first feature film here, and it’s a good one. Working with a script by author Jessica Knoll from her source material of the same name, The luckiest girl in the world is an exciting first feature. With a fierce performance from Mila Kunis, Barker and Knoll successfully adapt a sensitive subject matter with provocative themes that are also a very entertaining mystery.

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However, make no mistake, many flashbacks can be grueling and difficult to watch. In particular the gang rape scene over several minutes. And, of course, the school shooting scenes are graphic and could be triggering for many. Knoll has publicly stated that the gang rape scene is based on his own experiences, which gives the film added weight. Knowing this, the character, who ruminates daily in his own head, comes close to the dangers of having a revenge fantasy, which sparked the shooting in the first place.

The whole case is handled with great thought, empathy and a shocking mixture of reality that is sobering not only for the victims but also for the perpetrators. However, what The luckiest girl in the world does so well is to explore areas of victimization. TifAni suffers cruel treatment from her abusers, her mother (Connie Bitton), and officials. As much as we are justified in wanting to blame the shooters for their actions, they are victims. As much as we see Kunis’ character as a tragic story, his behaviors become self-destructive in his life. Ani’s honed personality (tough, cool, and cynical) is her cover and shield for her past trauma. His constant thoughts, feelings and desires are masked by it. Kunis’ slow descent from numbing pain to acute, unguarded self-awareness is subtle yet piercing.

The luckiest girl in the world is a genre film with current and modern themes. Although the film is too long, the story holds the viewer’s attention while mixing in moments of sobering reality. It’s a good image that ultimately may have too many triggering moments for mass audiences. However, the visceral story is empowering, and Kunis’ vulnerability makes Barker and Knoll’s adaptation so absorbing.

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What did you think of the Netflix movie Luckyest Girl Alive? Comments below.

Further reading

  • Luckyest Girl Alive ending explained

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