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Luckiest Girl Alive

Catching sight of partner Ashton Kutcher on set– looks like he has once again left their children in the care of their That 70’s Show costar, the old stoner Tommy Chong

Synopsis:  Upwardly mobile woman harbors a traumatic past.

Beware the beautiful badass. This 21st Century stock character, as portrayed in Luckiest Girl Alive, won’t let anything stand in the way of her career or the parading of her haute couture wardrobe. She’s also skinny, of course.

Mila Kunis as Ani FaNelli is flying high at her Cosmopolitan clone magazine. She writes articles with catchy titles, often about how to give a better blow job. Guess she’s not writing for a lesbian audience.

Mila’s voiceover glides along scenes of her character’s well-curated lifestyle. (I wish there was an Architectural Digest-type vid of her and Ashton’s house in the credits.) Her life seems all style and no substance.

Mila is six weeks from her posh wedding in Nantucket. We see her striding in expensive togs to her wedding gown fitting. She wonders aloud if the dress is tasteful enough for the to-the-manor-born family she’s about to marry into. Not that it matters, because the wedding seems like it will just be an excuse for her to show off, but there is a fiance, Luke (Finn Wittrock). Luke is rich, preppy and bland.  I think he works in finance. She lives with him in an NYC penthouse.

Beautiful badasses dazzle with their looks, slay with their ballbreaking and impress with their intelligence. No bimbos they. Mila is a star at work and her editor makes a point of telling staff she’s brilliant. This after smarming up some content.

Flashback! We see Teen Mila and learn that her brilliance earned her a scholarship to a prestigious private high school. I’m guessing the application essay was not about fellatio, but good for her if that’s the way she decided to go. When her mom drops her at the school dorms, we see that Teen Mila is under pressure. Mom Dina, played with brittle energy by Connie Britton, is an unsophisticated social climber. The mom tells her daughter that Brentley Prep will set her up to meet the right kind of guys. Eww. (And we already know that all the guys will be entitled little pricks.) Besides thinking it is 1950, Dina is fat phobic and makes sure to level a little criticism to Teen Mila about her weight.

Get away from them, Teen Mila! They are NOT your friends.

Academically, Teen Mila can’t help but shine. While returning essays to students, her English teacher says something to the effect that Mila’s essay is so amazing, that the rest of class shouldn’t even bother to try. Thanks, teach, great way to make the other students hate the new kid. However, this is not why they hate her. They hate her because she is a poor. The girls are quick to mock her  lack of family wealth. The boys use her insecurity in bids to sexually exploit Teen Mila. Also, we learn something horrifying about her; TifAni is her non-classy birth name.

In present day, Mila kills it at work and power shops in her off hours. She acts high maintenance with her fiancé which amuses him. Mila’s voiceover indicates her pleasure that the brass ring is within reach: rumors of a job offer from the New York Times Sunday Style magazine and a marriage that will make her Mrs. Rich Lady.

But the past intrudes. First, the camera points out a few instances in which she is triggered by a butter knife. Maybe she is remembering when she was full-figured TifAni, slathering her discount bread with umpteen calories of butter. Or maybe back at Brentley Prep someone brandished a butter knife in anger. Yes, indeed. And then some. *** Trigger Warning*** Luckiest Girl Alive contains scenes of sexual assault and gun violence. We’ll see more knives too — one seemed to be a steak knife with those serrated edges like sharks’ teeth.

Mila has managed to repress her traumatic past–revealed in measured doses– until a documentarian filmmaker approaches her and pleads with her to set the record straight from her POV. But… she’s got the wedding around the corner and the public may revile her when they are reminded that her real name is TifAni.

Luckiest Girl Alive is based on the 2015 book of the same name by Jessica Knoll who also wrote the screenplay. The novel was informed by her own experience as a rape survivor. In 2017, Knoll wrote an essay, “What I Know” about being sexually assaulted as a teen. In the aftermath, she was bullied and slut-shamed. Her account of how the brutalizing events affected her future is powerful and courageous.

Chiara Aurelia as Teen Mila/ young TifAni is excellent. She conveys confusion, fear and determination as a high school victim of violence. I hope there was a support specialist/intimacy coordinator on set, because some of the scenes are graphic and disturbing. (I should note that the actor was over the age of eighteen, but less than twenty-one years of age during filming.)

Luckiest Girl Alive is involving, but not gripping. Part of the problem is in the casting of Mila Kunis as Ani who is just not as good of an actor as her younger “self.” No spoilers, but there is one scene late in the movie when she confronts someone who victimized her… and her character doesn’t convey any nervousness, or anger. She plays it cool as can be. Mila’s empowered woman projects the same superficiality as the beautiful badass. I think a better actor could have shown strength and a mix of emotions. Though she was pretty good in Black Swan.

Anywho… Luckiest Girl Alive’s flashbacks unspool a good mystery with believable teen angst and dangers. And the “present day” parts? Very nice lifestyle content.

Movie Loon’s Movie Review Shortcut:

Grade:  C

Cut to the Chase:  Worth a look. I hadn’t read the book & I kept watching bc I wanted to know what happened to teen Ani at that so-many-mean kids’ high school. A setting many of us can relate to 😦

Humor Highlight:  The fiancé’s snobby family.


In Theaters

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