At times hard to watch yet always well acted, Luckiest Girl Alive is a competent and strange thriller that keeps you invested and on edge, but had the potential to do a lot more.
WRITTEN BY BECCA JOHNSON / OCTOBER 12, 2022
Adapted from the novel of the same title written by Jessica Knoll, Luckiest Girl Alive is a Netflix Original thriller starring Mila Kunis. Kunis plays a successful woman named Ani living in New York, who finds her life upended when she is forced to confront a dark truth that threatens to unravel her meticulously crafted life.
Mila Kunis no longer needs to prove herself as an actress to admire, and her performance here lives up to her usual talent. The material here is a little darker than what Kunis is used to, and she deals with it very successfully. Ani is a layered, complex and unique character, with many secrets and plenty of baggage, and it's fun to unravel her character along the way. Kunis seems to understand this perfectly and is always believable. In the husband role is Finn Wittrock (The Big Short), who gets considerably less to do than Kunis but still delivers. Other good performances are given by Scoot McNairy (Argo), Connie Britton (Promising Young Woman) and especially Chiara Aurelia as Young Ani. The majority of the cast are great. However, this is Kunis' movie, and she doesn't let us forget it.
Luckiest Girl Alive has very dark subject matter that may be a little too much for the average viewer, with intense scenes that portray themes of rape and school shootings. It has a handful of scenes that are hard to get through, and one pretty long and graphic scene that may need to be skipped altogether. It's questionable whether the scene needed to be so graphic in order to get it's important message across. On the flip side, there are plenty of lush, lavish scenes that show Kunis flourishing in her job, living in a gorgeous apartment and spending time with her particularly rich in laws. These scenes don't necessarily soften the blow of the difficult ones, but they definitely allow some breathing space. There's a large juxtaposition between Ani's present scenes and past scenes tonally, and though the past may be difficult to get through at times, both are interesting to follow, and you never wish you were spending time in the opposite timeline instead.
The performances are good, the story is gripping and emotional and the message is very important, but Luckiest Girl Alive is far from perfect. It struggles with it's pacing, often feeling too long and overstretched; this story lends itself perfectly to a 90 minute flick, and it's easy to pinpoint which scenes could've been removed or shortened to meet this runtime. There is an overall strange vibe to the movie that makes it feel clumsy, with a few tonal imbalances and clunky scenes. There is a very powerful message within this movie, yet the story-telling is all over the place – it's dual timeline is fine, even well done, but the writing lets it down. It lacks that depth, emotion and goes for shock factor rather than attempting to be moving. This merely ends up leaving a sour taste in your mouth, rather than having the desired effect.
Luckiest Girl Alive is one of Netflix's more competent thrillers, largely due to Mila Kunis' stellar performance as Ani. She adds so much depth to a pretty complex character, creating a compelling lead worth rooting for. At the core, it's telling an important story, and although it stumbles along the way, it's heart is in the right place and it has a particularly satisfying ending. Some tighter editing, a deeper script and short run-time would've worked in the movies favour, but what we were delivered was a tough yet enjoyable watch that does what it says on the tin. Just look up the trigger warnings before hitting play.