Luckiest Girl Alive, when hiding trauma doesn’t work

Mila Kunis in Luckiest Girl Alive

Luckiest Girl Alive surprised me. I’d read some scathing reviews about how bad it was. I was going to watch it, good or bad, because it has Jennifer Beals. The surprise was, the film isn’t bad. It isn’t great, but it isn’t bad.

Luckiest Girl Alive told a story about a woman who tried to live a life that looked good on the outside because she managed to lock away her trauma in a hidden compartment. That only worked for a while, until finally she faced the truth and allowed her inner self and her outer self to integrate.

The film was based on a novel by Jessica Knoll, who also wrote the screenplay. I read critics who were angry because the screenplay wasn’t exactly like the book, or because the film wasn’t exactly as good as some other similar story. But, to me, that doesn’t matter. This story worked, its point was made in this film, in this way.

Mila Kunis and Finn Wittrock in Luckiest Girl Alive

Mila Kunis stars as Ani. (Chiara Aurelia played Ani as a young woman.) She works for a New York magazine. She’s engaged to Luke (Finn Wittrock). Her boss (Jennifer Beals) praises her writing and wants to take Ani with her if she moves to a new job at a more prestigious publication.

Her life seemed perfect.

Several techniques were used to show that Ani’s life was actually not perfect. She spaced out at odd moments – looking at bloody knives, for example. Her inner dialog (there were a ton of voiceovers) was the exact opposite of what came out of her mouth. Flashbacks to her gang rape and a shooting at her school were explicit. (Trigger warning.)

A documentary director (Dalmar Abuzeid) was making a film about the long ago shooting at her school. He kept contacting her to be interviewed in the film. The shooting was connected to her rapes. She’d never gone public about the rapes or how they related to the shooter. Even so, she’d been accused of conspiring with the shooter.

She’d never told her mother (Connie Britton) about the rapes. (A bit of trivia, Jennifer Beals played Mila Kunis’ mother in The Book of Eli.) Her mother was pushy about the marriage and wanted Ani to land the wealthy guy and be all set. Her relationship with her mother was strained because she was hiding so much from her.

Mila Kunis in Luckiest Girl Alive

The insistence of the documentary filmmaker pushed Ani off balance. The walls hiding the memories weren’t strong enough to hold.

The resolution to the story involved several different moving parts. Facing past trauma is not a one-step process. The trauma never goes away. That’s why we need to believe women, even years after they are victimized. The stages of healing are slow.

The film is on Netflix. Check out the trailer.

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