Anna Kendrick shared her past experience of abuse on the drama “Alice, My Dear.”
NEW YORK – Anna Kendrick is retelling her story.
The Oscar-nominated actress is getting career-best reviews for “Alice, Darling” (Friday only at AMC theaters nationwide), in which she plays a young woman trapped in an emotionally abusive relationship. Kendrick, 37, signed on to the project two years ago when she left a long-term relationship with a psychologically abusive ex-boyfriend.
“I feel like something was stolen from me,” says Kendrick. “Stuck in this cycle of trying to improve the relationship and find a way to fix it meant I sacrificed more of myself.
“I gave myself over and over again, something was missing for a long time. I’m still getting it back.”
“Alice, My Dear” depicts the emotional toll of an abusive relationship
The dramatic thriller follows Alice (Kendrick) on a weekend getaway with her two best friends, Sophie (Wunmi Mosaku) and Tess (Kaniehtio Horn). Alice looks awkward and tense throughout the trip after lying to her domineering boyfriend Simon (Charlie Carrick) about her whereabouts. Tess and Sophie realize something is wrong with their friend and try to help Alice deal with her humiliating situation.
Alice has bruises that appear in an earlier version of Alanna Francis’ script. But Kendrick, who produced the film, felt it was important to show that not all abuse leaves physical scars. She imagined what it would be like to watch this movie if she was still in a toxic relationship.
“I didn’t want to make a movie where I said, ‘Oh, it’s not as bad as the movie. “Maybe I’m just dealing with normal, healthy conflict,” Kendrick said. “It’s a brave thing to stay with the main character’s experience rather than feeding the audience, ‘Here’s how you can report abuse.’ You have to look at the (psychological) effect of it on a person and believe that it is offensive.”
Instead, the film depicts the sinister and evil ways in which Simon messes with Alice’s head. She keeps a close watch on where he goes and what he eats, and feels guilty about drinking with his friends.
“These everyday things add so many layers to the most obvious moments of abuse,” says Kendrick. When someone is angry or violent, “sometimes it’s easier to say, ‘OK, that crossed the line and it’s not about me.’ It’s about you.’ With these little moments of trickery, I feel like, “There’s judgment and privilege here. But when I call him, they tell me I’m imagining it.”
For Kendrick, accuracy was “important” but sometimes difficult
Like Alice, Kendrick had good friends to lean on in his previous relationship. But even then, he never painted the full picture.
“I was spilling all sorts of interesting details into conversations with different friends,” Kendrick recalled. “Because I knew that if I told one person everything, that person would say, ‘Dude, run.’ »
With the help of therapy, Kendrick was able to accept the abuse for what it was. Although she kept the details vague, the “big turning point” came when she discovered “black and white evidence” that her partner was burning her.
“I’ve had all the benefits of starting my recovery and it’s still going strong,” Kendrick said, fighting back tears. “I don’t know how people do it, I just have to be like, ‘I don’t have any proof, but I have to believe in myself.’ It makes me want to cry.”
The film’s director, Mary Nighy, says she was impressed by how “honest and emotionally available” Kendrick was during filming.
“I’m sure it would be too difficult for some people to go back,” Nighy says. “He was very clear about wanting to warn others who might be emotionally abused, so the accuracy of the film was very important – even if it was difficult to study at times.”
Get over your complacency and believe in yourself as an actress
Beyond the film’s personal resonance, Kendrick saw “Alice, Darling” as an opportunity to expand beyond the high-energy, often musical characters she played in “Pitch Perfect” and “Trolls.” The film keeps the dialogue light, with long shots of Alice listening to Simon’s texts and dreading her appearance.
Sometimes on screen, “I probably overdid it a little bit,” Kendrick admits. “Because I said, ‘I have to make it interesting, because I don’t believe that I can just exist and be attractive, or anyone will invest in this character unless I sweat it out to be charismatic.’ To be honest, it made me feel very uncomfortable to be bored for a while in the movie. But it was strangely parallel to the confidence that I was enough and that would translate to the screen.
Since the film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last fall, Kendrick has been asked to revisit his traumatic past in countless such interviews. So far, the experience has been mostly positive, he says.
“Making a film, being around people who have had these experiences and being really open about it, I don’t find that moving at all. It’s very warm and safe,” Kendrick said. “The only thing I find disgusting is being in an environment where (someone) is a little bit indifferent. It’s not anyone’s responsibility to meet me where you come, but I’ll try to talk about it only in a space and in a way that’s convenient for me.”
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